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Non-Profit Org. 
U. S. Postage 

Santa Barbara, 

Permit No. 534 

Santa Barbara, Calif. 931^1 

Vol. XXII, No. 3 

Fall, 1976 

Montecito Movies 




“The Adventures of 





A new SYSTEM OF VENTILATION has been in- 
stalled insuring puré, fresh air, and a comfort- 
able house. 

Montecito Movies 


The Reminiscences of Mr. & Mrs. Roy Overbaugh 

On March 17, 1954, W. Edwin Gledhül, ai that time curator of the 
Histórica! Society Museum, recorded on tape the recollections of Roy Over¬ 
baugh and his wife Marjorie. Overbaugh was one of the outstanding camera - 
men of the era of silent movies , coming to Santa Barbara in 1912 with the 
American Film Company. First in La Mesa and then in Santa Barbara, he 
photographed most of the American Film Company’s productions between 
1910 and 1913. Mrs. Overbaugh also figured in the movie making of those 
days and shares in these recollections. 

In regard to the people mentioned, the reader tvill of course keep in 
mind the passage of time since these reminiscences were recorded. —Editor. 

Mr. Overbaugh: I am quite sure that it will be news to most of the resi- 
dents of this city that Santa Barbara was for a number of years the home 
and production headquarters of one of the leading motion picture companies 
of this country, and this fact played no small part in acquainting the public 
of the United States and also abroad with the many desirable and charming 
features of our beautiful city. The company that I am referring to was the 
American Film Company, popularly known as the “Flying A.” It rather 
surprises me that this reaily important event in the history of Santa Barbara 
has been seemingly lost sight of. In conversation I never hear it mentioned, 
ñor do I ever come across any reference to it in public print, 1 so I am 
genuinely glad that Mr. and Mrs. Gledhill have asked me to record some 
reminiscences of that period. I believe that some account of this event defi- 
nitely belongs in the history of Santa Barbara. Well, how to begin. I think 
perhaps I shouid start with the American Film Company prior to its arrival 
here. It was organized in Chicago where the head office and processing plant 
were located. In 1910 they sent their first production unit to the Coast, and 
I was in charge of photography. We located in La Mesa, a few miles outside 
of San Diego. I might say here that at this early date artificial light had 
not been developed to the point where it was suitable for proper lighting. 
Consequently, all scenes were photographed by daylight. This meant that 
Scripts and scenarios had to be written so that no interior scenes were neces- 
sary. Later on, outside stages were devised consisting of a crude platform 
with an overhead covering of diffusing cloth such as nainsook. This made 
interior sets possible, but even then they were seldom used unless there was 
no alternative and daylight was still the necessary source of light. This, of 

1. This situation had improved by the late 1950's: see the Santa Barbara News-Press 
for August 10, 1958, and Walker Tompkins’ ‘‘Santa Barbara Yesterdays” column in 
the News-Press for December 29, 1968. 

course, plus certain scenic advantages, was the principie reason why the 
early motion picture companies chose California. It was a matter of business: 
the y had to lócate where they could depend upon the greatest number of 
sunny days. Well, to continué, after working out of La Mesa for about two 
years and photographing exterior scenes exclusively, we practically ran out 
of settings. We had photographed nearly all the worthwhile scenery within 
a reasonable working radius. It was then determined to pulí up stakes and 
move elsewhere. Scouts and location men were sent out to look over and 
thoroughly investigate all other possible locations in California. The result 
of this exhaustive search was the selection of Santa Barbara as the best 
possible base of operations, considering climate, sunshine and variety of 
scenery. The decisión was made and the entire company arrived here on 
July 6, 1912. This original company consisted of the following: the leading 
man was J. Warren Kerrigan, the Clark Gable of that period. He was the 
most prominent motion picture star of those days, the national heart throb. 
That was the time when Mary Pickford, known as America’s Sweetheart, 
was becoming famous. The leading lady was Pauline Bush. 1 he ingenue 
was Jessalyn Van Trump and a most convincing villain was Jack Richardson. 
Character parts were played by George Periolat and Louise Lester, later 
known as “Calamity Anne.” The script writer was Roger Armstrong. The 
business executive was Wallace Kerrigan, brother of the leading man. The 
director was Alian Dwan, former Notre Dame football star, who incidentally 
is still successfully directing feature films in Hollywood. We made mostly 
westerns, and our stock man in charge of horses was Charles Morrison. His 
brother Pete was the company chauffeur. The president of the company, who 
carne west to negotiate and conclude any business arrapgements, was S. S. 
Ilutchinson. I was the cameraman. This position is now known as Director 
of Photography. My particular function was to photograph the motion pie- 
tures and also to make still photographs. It was sort of a one-man depart- 
ment. Nowadays seven men are employed to do the same work, although 
I must admit it is somewhat more complicated. Although we had arrived, 
we had not as yet any business address, so the first thing was to find suit- 
able quarters. Eventually the company planned to build, but pending the 
selection of a site and the erection of a suitable structure, we had to have 
temporary accommodations. On the east side of upper State Street, near 
Pedregosa, there was an ostrich farm which we learned was available. It 
seemed to meet our requirements, so a lease was signed and we moved in. 
A few days later we made our first picture. Our schedule called for two com- 
pleted productions each week. I should say that the pictures of that period 
were not the multiple-reel product of today. They were one reel only, con- 
sisting of a thousand feet. In passing, I might add that the cameras of those 
early days of silent pictures were rather crude compared with the modern 
ones. They were not motorized and had to be cranked by hand—exactly one 

— 2 — 

Interiors were shot by daylight 

foot, or sixteen frames, per second, which took two íull turns of the crank. 
However, through continual practice one became quite expert and auto- 
matically acquired the correct rhythin and timing so that is was no trick at 
all to crank, for instance, one hundred feet in one hundred seconds quite 
accurately. . . . 

Now about those one-reel pictures. As I have said, our schedule was 
two a week. As they were completed we would send them to Chicago for 
Processing and eventually we would get back the developed negative. We 
would then project this negative, edit it, make any necessary retakes, and 
again send it to Chicago. Finaily, we would receive a completed print and 
then the picture was ready for national distribution. Through working to- 
gether as a unit for a couple of years we had become so proficient that it 
took us only half a day to do a picture. If we hadn’t completed it in time for 
a late lunch, we considered ourselves slow. This meant that we had at least 
four days free time each week, and then was when we all fell in love with 
Santa Barbara and began to appreciate the pleasures it offered. If we wanted 
a full week off, as we quite often did, we would work four and one half days 
during one week and make four pictures instead of the required two. Life 
can be beautiful” is a familiar phrase. Well, it certainly was. Most of our 
time was spent at the beach. Working was just a sideline, and even that was 
fun. We got paid for it, too, which in retrospect sometimes astonishes me, 
considering the enjoyment we had. 

— 3 — 

After we had been here a few months and were still at the oíd ostrich 
farm, it was decided that time would be saved and resulta better if we could 
arrange to do our developing here instead of sending the negatives to Chicago. 
A vacant building on Cota Street near State was rented. Developing, fixing 
and washing tanks, drying drums and other necessary equipment was install- 
ed and we started developing our exposed film immediately. This was quite 
an advantage, as, instead of waiting a week or two to get our film back from 
the east, we knew definitely within twenty-four hours what results we were 
getting, and whether or not any scenes had to be remade. This developing 
task was assigned to me. 

1 he pictures we made were quite good and well received by the public. 
The company was successful and made a great deal of money, and decided 
that the time had come to build their own permanent studio. A site was 
selected on West Mission Street, extending northward and comprising the 
entire block between State and Chapala Streets. The plans called for an 
administration building, a glassed-in and curtained studio for interior scenes, 
dressing rooms and a green room lounge for the actors and actresses, paint, 
carpenter and machine shops, property rooms, art department, garage, stables 
and corráis for the horses, camera equipment and loading rooms, a complete 
laboratory for processing, together with cutting, editing and projection rooms. 
The grounds were beautifully landscaped and the buildings artistically arrang- 
ed around a central garden and driveway. Surrounding the entire property was 
a high Mission wall, with the entrance on Mission Street through huge orna¬ 
mental iron gates. Remnants of these structures still remain, principally the 
building on the córner of Mission and Chapala, which was originally the 
actors’ green room lounge and dressing rooms. 

When this work was finallv completed, Santa Barbara was, without any 
question, the home of the best equipped and most artistic motion picture 
studio in the country. We then abandoned the ostrich farm, and with a con¬ 
siderable feeling of pride, moved into our permanent quarters and a new era 
was inaugurated. The company was now organized to produce on a much 
larger scale, and expansión was in order. The market was expanding, so it 
was decided to add several more producing units to the original one. This 
made necessary a considerable increase in our personnel, so a number of 
actors and actresses who were becoming popular were induced to come to 
Santa Barbara and join the “Flying A.” Also, more directors, cameramen 
and technicians were added. A few more company automobiles were pur- 
chased, principally Wintons, one of the best makes at that time. Bell and 
Howell had just brought out a new' 35 millimeter motion picture camera 
which was a great advance over anything previously used, and we acquired 
several of these. From here on, events, changes and developments occurred 
rapidly. To relate the detailed history of all this would require much more 


time and hundreds of feet of tape, so I think it might be better to bring 
this chapter to a cióse. As a matter of fact, I need a little break to coilect 
my thoughts and decide what further incidents might be pertinent to this 
account. However, before concluding I think it might be in order to mention 
the ñames of some of the new stars and personnel acquired by the company 
during this period of expansión. Some became quite famous and are still 
remembered. A few are still active. 

Among the actors were Wallace Reid, Harold Lockwood, William Gar- 
wood, Marshall Neilan, Sydney Ayres, Eugene Pallette, William Russell, 
William Stowell, Edward Coxen, George Field, Harry Von Meter, and also 
Richard Bennett, the father of Constance, Barbara and Joan Bennett, who 
then lived here in the oíd Dibblee mansión on what is now known as Lead- 
better Hiil. Also at that time a young actor by the ñame of William Frawley 
joined us. At the present time he may be seen as Fred Mertz in the “I Love 
Lucy” show on televisión. 

Some of the actresses who became members of the company were Mar¬ 
garita Fischer, May Allison, Lottie Pickford [Mary’s sister] Mary Miles 
Minter, Ruth Donnelly, Juanita Hansen, Eugenie Forde, Winnifred Green- 
wood, Vivían Rich and Charlotte Burton, a well-known Santa Barbara girl. 
In my opinión, that is quite an imposing array of talent, especially for those 
days. This list would not be complete without mentioning the ñames of new 
directors and cameramen who joined us. Directors were Lorimer Johnston, 
Thomas Ricketts, Albert Hale, Al Santell, Reeves Eason, Harry Pollard, 
Jacques Jaccard, Henry Otto, Frank Borzage and Henry King, who is now 
with 20th Century Fox. Cameramen were Al Heimerl, Robert Phelan, Guy 
Wilkie, John Webster Brown, John Sykes, Faxon Dean and Thomas Middle- 
ton, a local photographer, and others. If 1 have omitted any ñames that 
should have been included in this list, it is entirely due to the lapse of time — 
about forty years — which sometimes plays tricks with one’s memory. . . . 

When we moved in we had rather ambitious plans. Instead of one- 
reelers, we now made two-reelers and even some four-reelers. Lights were 
now sufficiently improved so that we used them occasionally for interior 
sets. Actually, we used a mixture of diffused daylight, mercury vapor tubes 
and carbón ares, which were then known as Kleig lights. In those days the 
making of a picture was more of a novelty than it is now, and wherever we 
went to shoot scenes we usually had quite an audience. The people of Santa 
Barbara were very much interested and very hospitable. Most of the better 
homes, grounds and estates were thrown open to us to use as locations, as 
were the grounds of the Potter and Arlington Hotels, and we certainly took 
advantage of all this. Some of our favorite locations were the home of Mrs. 
William Miller Graham in Montecito; the Gillespie estáte, also in Montecito; 
beautiful Glendessary in its picturesque setting on Glendessary Lañe, now 

— 5 — 

owned by Mr. and Mrs. Gledhill (we made many scenes there) ; and of 
course the Mission. Many scenes were made there also. At times, when we 
wanted something a little more wild and rugged, we went up to La Cumbre 
and of course to the beach when Castle Rock was still there. We used that 
location a great many times. Mission Creek, which had, I believe, more water 
in it than at present, was used occasionally. Scenes were also made in Hope 
Ranch. Quite frequently we went to Santa Cruz Island, and while there we 
usually stayed for a week or two of camping. As I remember it, I think we 
went on a boat which was owned by Captain Vasquez, and I think the ñame 
of the boat was the Otter, so we rather enjoyed those outings too. Also we 
made many location scenes in Summerland, Carpintería and Goleta. 

At this time we made so many pictures and we couldn’t always get 
people down here from Los Angeles and other cities, so they decided to 
form sort of a stock company, and besides the more well-known stars which 
I have mentioned, quite a few of the local people took part and joined the 
stock company and were used in various pictures and various performances. 
My wife, who is sitting with me, who was Marjorie Greenwell, a native of 
Santa Barbara, was quite an expert swimmer in those days, and she, besides 
doing some dramatic work, was frequently called upon to “double” when 
the script called for a swimming scene, and perhaps the star couldn’t swim. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: That was great fun. I enjoyed that, because I loved 
swimming better than anything. 

Mr. Overbaugh: I know you did. Didn’t you do rather a risky stunt over 
on Santa Cruz Island one time? 

Mrs. Overbaugh: No, I didn’t actually do it, but what the director wanted 
me to do was to swim into Painted Cave, as the waves, the swells went down 
and made an opening, and then swim out again when tfye waves went down, 
but it was entirely too risky, and Captain Vasquez said it would be suicide 
to attempt it, but you can see that even in those days the directors, looking 
for realism, were asking you to do the impossible almost. But I did do a lot 
of swimming there. 

Mr. Overbaugh: I remember one where Ed Coxen, who was playing the 
lead, according to the script he was supposed to be drowning and you were 
supposed to . . . 

Mrs. Overbaugh: Oh, no, no, you’ve got it wrong. I was supposed to 
be drowning and Ed Coxen, the star, was supposed to rescue me. But when 
he dived in from the end of the platform on the wharf, it seems he had on 
a crocheted or knitted tie of some kind that, the minute it got in the water, 
it contracted, and he was choking and gasping and pulling at his tie, so I 
had to come out of my drowning scene and rescue him. 

Mr. Overbaugh: I do remember that that was . . . 

Mrs. Overbaugh: He was actually being strangled by this tie. The 
cameras were still going. It was very funny, because I suddenly carne to life 
and swam to him and rescued him. 

Mr. Overbaugh: So that’s what they called a switch. The script was 
reversed at that point. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: So we took it over again, without the tie. 

Mr. Overbaugh: Let me see. Oh, Víctor Fleming occurs to me here. Now 
Víctor Fleming was a local boy who was an expert mechanic, especially 
anything to do with automobiles. In fact, he had charge of about several 
expensive cars, Simplexes and so forth, that were owned by Clinton Hale, who 
was a wealthy Santa Barbaran of that period, and Vic worked for Clinton 
Hale. Well, when the motion picture company carne to town, he was very 
much intrigued with the making of motion pictures, especially the photo- 
graphic end of it, and somehow or other we became acquainted and he was 
very persistent. He carne to the studio many times and wanted to know if 
I couldn’t possibly engineer him in somehow because he did want to get in 
the picture business. So, eventually I was able to work it and Vic carne on as 
my assistant cameraman. Well, we worked together for some time and eventu¬ 
ally I went away on a location with some company and Vic remained here, 
and then I believe he became a first cameraman. He finally got an offer from 
one of the Los Angeles companies and went there. Eventually he went with 
Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Fairbanks seemed to t¿ke quite a liking to him 
and eventually made him a director, and Vic always turned in a good job 
and he was quite successful as a director and made better and better pictures 
and got better and better jobs until eventually he was chosen to direct 
Gone With the Wind , which was probably one of the greatest pictures made, 
at least up until that time, and undoubtedly the biggest money maker. Well, 
Vic Fleming, who was a local automobile mechanic here in Santa Barbara, 
directed the picture, for which he received an Academy Award, an Oscar, 
but Vic worked quite hard and didn’t perhaps take enough vacation, so two 
or three years ago he passed away with a heart condition of some sort. But 
that’s rather a success story, I think. 

There were quite a few incidents. Some were amusing and some were— 
they were all interesting that occurred here in Santa Barbara. One rather 
comical procedure: the American Film Company perhaps had spent too 
much money on their new studio, so they got a sort of economical streak, and 
in those days instead of thousand-foot rolls of film, the rolls consisted of 
only four hundred feet. Well, four hundred feet doesn’t last for a very long 
scene and it did happen occasionally that we would run out of film right in 
the middle of a scene. The normal procedure now, of course, if that happened, 
which is rare, is just do the scene over again after reloading with fresh film, 
but at that time they didn’t want to waste that film, so they had it understood 

— 7 — 

that if they should run out of film in the middle of a scene, the director 
would say “hold it,” and everyone would freeze in whatever attitude they 
happened to be in and would have to remain in that particular attitude like 
a frozen statue, while the cameraman got out a fresh roll of film, reloaded 
the camera, and the director would say “action,” everybody would fall out 
and continué on. Then when those two reels were developed, they were cut 
as expertly as possible, joined together, and it was surprising how little jump 
you could see where the two rolls were joined. 

Alrs. Overbaugh: They used to put a subtitle about in there, didn’t they? 
Or a close-up or something, to hide that, but I remember it like when chil- 
dren used to play statue and they’d suddenly say “hold it” and you’d just 

Mr. Overbaugh: Well, of course, if a studio ever did anything like that 
now it would cause hysterics and everybody would have convulsions or 
something. Well, that was one of the things. Another incident that occurred 
to me: some picture we were doing, the script called for a scene in which 
two cars were to> have a collision and it had to be in town. So I think the 
córner of State Street and—it might have been Victoria, or it might have 
been further down. They had planned this thing out rather carefully. They 
didn t want anyone to get hurt, so they had taken one car and prepared 
dummies. They did a pretty good job on the dummies. They really looked 
like people and filled one car with dummies. This car—the driver had prac- 
ticed with it so that he knew just where to set the throttle, the wheels were 
locked in a straight line so it would maintain its course and the driver had 
found out how far back from the intersection he would have to go to set the 
throttle in this given position, start the car and then jump off, so there you 
have a car with no driver and with a set throttle heading toward the inter¬ 
section. Well, the other car which had a driver was supposed to run into this 
car which had no one in it. They had timed it so that they thought it would 
work all right, but they didn t allow for the weight of the driver himself, so 
that when they actually did the scene and the driver jumped off the car, 
the car relieved of his weight gathered speed a little faster than had been 
anticipated. So, the car that was to hit it missed it. This runaway carload 
of dummies went right down State Street and the other car had failed to 
connect with it. So here it was, right in traffic. Something deflected the 
front wheels, even though they were locked, and the car veered over toward 
the curb and smashed into some beautiful Iimousine belonging to someone 
in Montecito and with the impact all these dummies (it was an open car) 
skvrocketed out and landed on their heads, and several women screamed 
and fainted, of course not knowing they were dummies. It looked very real 
to them. They thought they were witnessing a terrific accident. The company 
had a lot of lawsuits on that, I believe. Thev had to buy a lady a new 

— 8 — 

limousine besides compensation for all the fainting spells and shock. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: We were very fortúnate that no one was injured. 
They could have been. 

Mr. Overbaugh: Yes, that’s right. No one was really injured, which was 
startling. WeJl, that’s one of the things that occurred. But speaking of fatal 
injuries, there was a fatality that I remember very well. And they did the 
most daring things, more so than they w'ould now. There was a scene called 
for by the script, in which a man, I believe he was a prisoner of some 
western gang or something, he was blindfolded, his hands were tied behind 
his back. This was actually done, and he was taken somewhere on top of a 
stagecoach. Well, according to the script he was supposed to try to escape. 
Now, imagine a man whose hands are tied behind his back and blindfolded, 
and they figured out a place, I think it was Mountain Drive, I’m not quite 
positive of the road, but at a certain point he was to jump as they went 
around the curve, and I think they figured he was either to land in some 
bushes or some water. I’m just not clear on that point. But anyhow, he did it. 
As he jumped, his head hit an overhanging rock and he was killed. Now, 
that’s one of the tragedies. And it was especially regrettable because he was 
a wonderful man and so well liked by everybody. I think it was a long time 
before they attempted anything quite so daring as that, although previous 
to that they had done another thing which I happened to think of. I believe 
this was in a picture called The Diamond from the Sky. They decided to have, 
according to the story, an automobile race with a train, so they picked out 
some section along the Southern Pacific where the automobile road paralleled 
the railroad track. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: That's between Carpintería and Ventura. 

Mr. Overbaugh: Oh, you remember that. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: Yes, it still runs along the highway. 

Mr. Overbaugh: Oh, I’d forgotten that. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: But the road used to cross over the tracks. 

Mr. Overbaugh: But it doesn’t now? 

Mrs. Overbaugh: It doesn’t now. 

Mr. Overbaugh: At this period, after running parallel for a while the 
automobile road did make a curve and cross the railway track. There was 
an express train that went through this track at a certain time every day. 
The company had that all figured out. So they got a driver, a rather daring 
driver, in a fast automobile and he was—they didn’t tell the engineer on 
the train anything about this, of course. They had it planned so that the 
automobile was about two miles, I guess, from this place where the road 
crosses the track. The automobile engine was running and the automobile 
was going along very siowly until the train carne by. Then the driver 
waved at the engineer in the cab and signalled “how^ about a race” or some- 

— 9 — 

thing like that, so the engineer put out a little more speed, I suppose, and 
he actually raced the train and the train went faster than he figured it 
could. He thought he could beat the train easily, but it was a cióse race, so 
that when he got to this place where the road crossed the railroad track 
they were almost neck and neck, but he was going so fast he couldn’t stop 
anyhow, so he had to cross the track. Weil, he just did. As a matter of fact, 
the cowcatcher, at the front part of the engine, just clipped his rear fender. 
It was that cióse. So that ended safely, but that could have been a very bad 

Mrs. Overbaugh: I remember, the engineer thought he’d actually hit 
him, and he was — he passed out or something. 

Mr. Overbaugh: Yes, that’s right, the engineer fainted and the fireman 
had to take over. 

Mrs Overbaugh: Yes, the fireman had to take over, and he was taken 
off the run for a long time. 

Mr. Overbaugh: Yes, it was such a shock to him. Of course, he didn t 
know about this and he really thought he’d almost killed a man and it just 
unnerved him and the Southern Pacific just raised the dickens with the picture 
company here. I don’t know what the outcome of it was, but there was a lot 
to do about that. 

Another thing I remember, we did a picture called The House of a 
Thousand Scandals and the house in the picture had to be blown up, so they 
built quite an imposing looking mansión out on — well, out somewhere, 
just the front of it of course, the part that the camera would photograph, and 
they put a charge of dynamite in there, and 1 know I had the camera in a 
log cabin about a hundred feet away. I had to photograph the explosión, and 
they had a terrific charge of explosive in there, so I got the camera going 
and then all of a sudden the> detonated this charge of dynamite. The house 
just blew- up in little pieces. It rained down on this log shelter where I had 
the camera. It just rained, it seemed for about five minutes, and when every- 
thing cleared away, the house was gone entirely. So you see they did spectacu- 
lar things even as long ago as that. . . . 

All this that I’m telling about was in the early days, in the beginnings 
of the motion picture industry. It was also the beginning of the airplane 
industry. I remember a famous aviator of that time. He was quite a stunt 
flyer. His ñame was Lincoln Beachey. He’d be well known to people who are 
familiar with the history of aviation and we used him in a picture here in 
Santa Barbara and it seems to me in one of the scenes his plañe dropped or 
fell and he wasn’t hurt, and he climbed out of the tree all right. Another 
famous ñame in aviation is Glenn Martin. Of course, everyone knows of 
Glenn Martin. We used an early biplane of his in some scene in Hope Ranch. 
I still have a picture of Martin standing by one of his early models of a 

— 10 — 

Filming was a community ajfair 

plañe. It was a biplane. I still have that picture. Ihen there was another. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: By the way, John Northrup—Jack Northrup—who was 
a native of Santa Barbara, lived on Bath Street, I think, about the córner of 
Bath and Ortega, and I lived on Bath Street and used to see him very often 
when I used to walk up going to school and see Jack Northrup. I knew him 
very well. A very fine young man, very studious. Always with his nose in a 
book, studying. He was, of course, a product of Santa Barbara. We’re very 
proud of Jack Northrup. 

Mr. Overbaugh: I don’t suppose it was known at that time that he had 
a particular interest in aviation? 

Mrs. Overbaugh: Oh, I don’t believe so, no. He was interested in Science 
and engineering. 

lnterviewer: Well, that is interesting. It just goes to show what illustrious 
people carne from Santa Barbara, doesn’t it? Something has just made me 
think of Magnin’s. Now what was that? Magnin’s, they were in some way 
. . . there was some association with Magnin’s and the American Film Com¬ 
pany. What was that? 

Mrs. Overbaugh: Well, Magnin’s had a very beautiful shop in the Potter 
Hotel, along with a few other exclusive shops that were in the hotel and the 
American Film Company was making a picture in which the leading lady, 

— 11 — 

who was Margarita Fischer, was to play the part of a mannequin or a model, 
so just at that time Magnin’s were having their spring fashion show and 
they had six French girls, very beautiful French models, who modeled their 
dresses and Margarita Fischer wore one of these dresses and acted with them 
and these girls were all brought into the picture in this particular scene. 
I remember we have an oíd still. You may remember having seen it, taken 
on the Potter Hotel lawn, of these models and Margarita Fisher with a big 
sign in front saying “Magnin’s Spring Fashion Show”—I believe 1914, if 
I remember correctly. 

Mr. Overbaugh: Yes, I think it does. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: And it’s very interesting because it shows the styles 
of that period and also Magnin’s, their first shop here. 

Mr. Overbaugh: Incidentally, it seems to me I had to sing at that thing. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: I don’t remember that. 

Mr. Overbaugh: Something about fashions. They had the póster girls 
sketched on a large paper enclosed in a frame and as I sang various verses 
of this some song the girls broke through the paper which had on it a 
sketch showing the particular costume they were wearing. 

Interviewer: Speaking of the Potter Hotel and the Arlington, they were 
certainly landmarks of that period, weren’t they? 

Mrs. Overbaugh: Yes, wonderful places. 

Mr. Overbaugh: Life sort of revolved around those places, and Diehl’s 
grocery store. That was a favorite meeting place for especially the picture 
people. We missed no opportunity to go in there and have lunch or refresh- 
ments of some sort. There were always people that you knew in there. It was 
just like a club, almost, a lovely place. I sort of regretted the passing of 
Diehl s grocery store. And the Palace Theatre. Now, at that period the Palace 
Theatre was the leading motion picture theatre in town and I believe it was 
located on the east side of State Street, right near Cañón Perdido. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: It was just north of Cañón Perdido. There was a bank 
on the córner and next door was the Palace Theatre. 

Mr. Overbaugh: Well frequently, in order to see what our pictures 
looked hke in an actual theatre presentation, we arranged with the manager 
of the Palace 1 heatre to come in there in the afternoons, or mornings some- 
times, when the theatre was not in use, and run our completed pictures 
there. We really got a good idea of what they looked like. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: Not only that, but all the Santa Barbara people who 
used to act in the pictures used to go to see them and the stills were put 
outside with all our pictures and it was really quite a thrill that you don’t 
have nowadays. 

Mr. Overbaugh: Yes, that’s right. So many local people took part in the 
various pictures and it was really quite a thrill to go to see themselves. That 

— 12 — 

was the Palace Theatre. Also, those being silent pictures, the actors and 
actresses felt that for some of the more emotional scenes they couldn’t prop- 
erly get in the mood without the inspiration of music. So I remember we 
liad, I think it was a James Campiglia, who played the violin. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: Yes, his son has an orchestra now, Jimmy Campiglia; 
he was just a little boy then. 

Mr. Overbaugh: Is that so? James Campiglia and his violin was a fre- 
quent visitor to the studio and played what you might cali “mood” music to 
get the actors and actresses in the proper mood for whatever scene they 
might be doing. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: Well, now that we’re on the subject of music, I do 
remember too that they occasionally used my grandmother’s harp, which 
I at the time used to play. In fact, I played with James Campiglia— I played 
the harp, he played the violin on several occasions. But they used to rent 
the harp to use in scenes and there was one scene in a picture in which 
Margarita Fischer, one of the leading actresses then, was supposed to be a 
wonderful harpist and she played the harp. I was not present when the scene 
was being made, but when the picture carne out and was shown, here was 
Margarita Fischer sitting with the harp on the wrong shoulder (as you know, 
you hold the harp on the left shoulder) and went through all the motions 
backwards. It was really very funny. Of course they had no technical director 
and no one to tell them. 

Mr. Overbaugh: That was quite a boner, wasn’t it? 

Mrs. Overbaugh: It really was. We used to make a lot of them in those 

Mr. Overbaugh: I know they did. Now, of course, they have technical 
directors and script clerks. They check out everything; and research depart- 
ments and all that. Very seldom a mistake gets through now. 

Another thing I remember in the way of recreation at that period was 
the dances. They were very popular dances, given at Elks Hall, which was, 
I beJieve, where Montgomery Ward is now. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: Córner of Figueroa and State. 

Mr. Overbaugh: And that was the popular thing to do. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: It was a very fine ballroom. There was a very beautiful 
floor mounted on springs and it was very fine. 

Mr. Overbaugh: Everyone looked forward to those dances. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: Speaking of dance music particularly, Roy, did I 
ever tell you that Edwin Gledhill's father was my first piano teacher? When 
I was a little girl in Santa Barbara he taught me, gave me my first lesson 
on grandma’s little rosewood upright piano, and I remember him very well. 

I can just see him now. He was a very charming gentleman and I was very 
fond of him. 

Mr. Overbaugh: And were you interested in the piano? 

Mrs. Overbaugh: Oh, yes, very much so. 

Mr. Overbaugh: You were a good student? 

Mrs. Overbaugh: And he was an excellent teacher. 

Mr. Overbaugh: Well, that’s an interesting bit, too, isn’t it? I’ve men- 
tioned two pictures, The Diamond ¡rom the Sky and House of a Thousand 
Scandals. Just at the moment two other ñames of two other pictures we did 
occurred to me. One was called Damaged Goods, with Richard Bennett, I 
believe, and another one was called Motherhood. Just at the moment I don’t 
recall the ñames of others, although of course there were probably hundreds. 

Well, now, about this time there was a lot of enthusiasm about the 
picture business and some of the residents of Santa Barbara and Montecito 
decided that they should form a motion picture company of their own. So 
the matter was taken in hand and sufficient funds were raised and a motion 
picture company was organized with local people right here in Santa Barbara. 
It was called the Santa Barbara Motion Picture Company. I want to read 
a bit from a clipping in the local paper at that time. It is dated June 12, 1914. 
“This has been a week of accomplishment for the work on the studio of the 
Santa Barbara Motion Picture Company at 1425 Chapala Street. Huge piles 
of lumber and material are making an entire change in the appearance of the 
plant. An immense stage has been almost completed.” Then there are a lot of 
incidental remarks here, then down at the bottom it says “All players engaged 
by the Company will report for work on June 22.” This was 1914 so that 
establishes the date of organization of this company anyhow. I neglected to 
say, in reference to this company, that I left the American Film Company 
and went with this new company. There was quite some inducement: I had an 
offer of considerably more money and was given a thousand shares of stock 
and also a rather unheard of concession at that time — my ñame was to 
appear on the screen as having photographed this production. All this I just 
couldn’t resist, so I left the “Flying A” and went with the Santa Barbara 
Motion Picture Company. Now, the officers of the company were: Dr. E. J. 
Boeseke, who was the father of Elmer Boeseke, the famous polo player, was 
president; H. M. A. Postley was the treasurer; and Lorimer Johnson was 
the general manager. O. W. Boeseke, Dr. Boeseke’s brother, was the secre- 
tary. One of the stockholders was Mrs. John Beale. She later became Mrs. 
Child. The Child estáte on Cabrillo Boulevard, which has recently been given 
to the city, was her home. Also, there was Mrs. Hugh Vail, and a Mrs. 
Sawyer. Several of those ñames that were associated with that motion picture 
company. Now their stars—they had a Los Angeles picture star by the ñame 
of Rena Valdez, also Mrs. Roland Sawter, who still lives in Santa Barbara. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: Her ñame was Marty Martin. 


Mr. Overbaugh: Yes, at that time her ñame was Marty Martin. She 
showed considerable dramatic talent and she played leads for a while with that 
new Santa Barbara company. Then there was Page Peters, and Jack Nelson, 
Scott Beale — that is about all the ñames I can remember right now. The ñame 
or their first picture was The Envoy Extraordinary , quite a pretentious cos- 
tume picture. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: A great deal of it was taken at El Mirasol. 

Mr. Overbaugh: That was quite an extravagant production for that 
period. About this time we left Santa Barbara. I think it was late in 1916. 
We left for New York, where we lived for several years. This was followed 
by a trip and picture making in Europe. We stayed there about ten years, 
and eventually we returned here to Santa Barbara, about 1951, after an 
absence of something like 34 or 35 years. So when and why the motion 
picture companies went out of business I am unable to tell you. I’d like to 
know myself. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: I don’t think the pictures were very good, to be 
perfectly frank. 

Mr. Overbaugh: You mean of the newer company. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: Of the newer company. 

Mr. Overbaugh: Well, I’ve very much enjoyed relating these reminis- 
cences and I hope they will fit into the overall picture of Santa Barbara. 

Mr. Overbaugh: Mr. Gledhill has just asked me if I wouldn’t relate a 
few of my experiences during the years in which we were absent from Santa 
Barbara. This comes on me as a bit of a surprise, but I’ll see what I can 
remember. As I said before, we left here about 1916 and went to New York. 
I think that I first went to New York with Norma Talmadge, to photograph 
her. She was there with a company called the Triangle Film Company. I went 
to New York and did some work with Norma Talmadge. I believe we did a 
picture called Panthea, and it was quite an interesting picture, my first 
picture in New York, and I was very homesick. It wasn’t Santa Barbara and 
it wasn’t California and 1 didn’t like it at all and I was very blue and despond- 
ent and as a matter of fact, it took me quite a long time to become accustomed 
to working in the conditions in the east. The studios weren’t nearly as nice 
and it was difficult getting to and from your work. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: And the climate, too . . . 

Mr. Overbaugh: The climate was horrible, and I just didn’t like it. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: By the way, wasn’t Alian Dwan the director who was 
with the American Film Company for so long? 

Mr. Overbaugh: Yes, he was, Alian Dwan. 1 think that’s how I happened 
to be selected to go to New York to do this. Well, anyhow, it so turned out 
that I stayed in New York and one peculiar thing that pops into my mind is 
this: most all the stars I had to work with in New York, their ñames began 


with B; it’s very odd. B, the letter B, has figured quite prominently in 
a great many things in my Life. There was John Barrymore; there was Con- 
stance Binney; there was Billie Burke, who is still acting quite successfully 
and—there are others. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: Richard Barthelmess. 

Mr. Overbaugh: And Alice Brady, but nearly every star I had to photo- 
graph, their last ñames began with B. I think there was one exception to 
that, Elsie Ferguson, but that’s early in the alphabet anyway. 

After finishing this Norma Talmadge picture, I believe they only did one 
in the east, and then she carne back here, after this one picture, Panthea , and 
then I went with Famous Players Laskv. I was working with a director 
named John Robertson, and they decided to do a picture, one of Sir James 
Barrie’s stories, Peter Pan , and the director that I had been working with, 
John Robertson, went to England to interview and talk with Sir James Barrie 
regarding the making of his Peter Pan , so after they had this consultation, 
this conference, it was decided to do it, and then I was sent for. So that s 
how I happened to go to England at first, but v r hen I arrived something else 
had developed, and they decided not to do that picture just then, so instead 
we went to Spain and did a picture cailed A Spanish Jade with a star who 
later became quite prominent out here in Hollywood in underworld roles. 
Her ñame was Evelyn Brent and she was quite a good type for this particular 
picture that we did in Spain. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: Wasn’t it before that, though, that you did Dr. Jekyll 
and Mr. Hyde with John Barrymore? 

Mr. Overbaugh: That’s right. Yes. That was an extremely interesting 
picture, the silent versión of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with John Barrymore. 
John Barrymore was a delight to work with because he had considerable 
regard for the problems of a photographer, and although he was a handsome 
person, he cailed me aside one day and said, “Look, don’t have me lit up like 
a portrait all the time. The less the audience can see of me, the more they’ll 
be interested.” He said, “Let funny shadows and weird lights hit me across 
the face, especially when I’m as Hyde.” That was quite interesting from a 
cameraman’s point of view because you felt you were allowed to experiment 
a little bit and try unusual things in the way of lighting, and I’ve always liked 
to work with John Barrymore from that standpoint. He’s a very interesting 
person, so, as Marjorie says, we did that before we went to Europe. 

We did this picture in Europe and then we carne back to England and 
did another picture having to do with a one-ring French circus. We followed 
this little one-ring French circus all over France. The ñame of it was Cirque 
Pindare, wasn’t that the ñame of it? 

Mrs. Overbaugh: Yes. It was all along on the coast of Normandy. 

- 16 — 

Mr. Overbaugh: I don’t remember the ñame of the picture, but it was 

a circus anyway, and exclusively. 

So, then I believe after that we carne back to New York, and then I 
think I went with a director named Henry King, and it was decided to go to 
Italy and do The White Sister, Lillian Gish was to play the White Sister 
and her sister Dorothy was also in the picture, and arrangements were made 
and they had the sailing date all set and had everything except the leading 
man. They had no leading man. Well, Henry King was the director and he 
tested many people and hadn’t found anyone that he considered suitable for 
the part. He was getting pressed for time. He wanted to go to Atlantic City 
and lock himself up in a hotel room and work on the story, so he com- 
missioned me and a still man by the ñame of James Abbey. He said, Look, 

you two fellows run around the theatres in New York and 9ee if you can 
lócate anybody that might be worth trying out for this part. So we went 
around to the theatres. Eventually we went to a Henry Miller show. I believe 
the ñame of it was La Tendresse, and in the show, playing a minor part, was 
a man named Ronald Colman. Well, both James Abbey and myself thought 

that his appearance was what was wanted. He was sort of a Latín type, or 
could be. From a photographic standpoint we thought that he might be worth 
considering. Of course, we didn’t presume to pass on his dramatic ability. 
We were just there for the photographic possibilities. So anyhow, we told 
Henry King, the director, when we got back that we’d found someone who 
might do, and King was interested and said, “Let’s make a test of him any¬ 
how.” So Colman was contacted and he carne to the studio. He was interested. 
And I remember that I made his first motion picture test and it was run 
in the projection room and everybody seemed pleased, so Colman got the job. 
So in that respect I was really instrumental in his first motion picture engage- 
ment in this country. I believe he had much earlier done some little picture 
work abroad. But anyhow, he went to Rome, Italy, to do this part in The 
White Sister, and although he was a little nervous about it at first, he de- 
veloped very rapidly and as the picture progressed he became better and 
better and by the time it was over he was considered quite a hit. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: He made a very, very handsome Italian officer, I 
remember. And another thing too, he’s a very, very charming person. 

Mr. Overbaugh: Well, this picture took nearly a year to finish, so after 
finishing it we carne back to New York and fooled around there for a couple 
of months, then it was decided with practically the same cast to go back to 
Italy, Florence this time, and do Romulo. So we went to Florence and did 
Romulo. We had, I believe, just about the same cast, the Gish girls, Charley 

Lañe and . . . 

Mrs. Overbaugh: And William Powell. 


Mr. Overbaugh: Yes, William Powell. He was a lot of fun too. Then, after 
finishing this, which took about another year, we carne back to New York 
again and then Dorothy Gish was signed up to do a picture for a British com- 
pany. She was going to do Nell Gwynne, and it seems that she had it in her 
contract that she wouldn’t do it unless I would photograph it. I didn’t know 
this at the time, but anyhow I was given the opportunity to go back to England 
and photograph Dorothy Gish in Nell Gwynne , and I enjoyed working with her 
and rather enjoyed London, too, so I was quite delighted to accept this propo- 
sition, so we went to London and made Nell Gwynne and that was quite a 
good picture, very well received and had lots of good notices. Then we carne 
back to New York again. Then it was decided to organize a company and 
go to London and make several pictures. Weli, I fell heir to this job, too, 
so we went back to London and made several pictures with different people; 
one was Will Rogers, I remember. And then with some of the British like 
Jack Buchanan, Nelson Keys, some of the better known British stars, and 
we made quite a few of them in Nice, France, also, so eventually that series 
of pictures terminated. Then I went with some other British companies. I 
went with one called Welch-Pearson. I did a picture with Sir Harry Lauder. 
That was a lot of fun too. I had a chance to get acquainted with some very 
well known actors and actresses and 1 certainly enjoyed it. 

Mrs. Overbaugh: I think that back in our minds the whole time was 
always the thought that some day we’d come back to Santa Barbara, because 
1 think once you’ve been in Santa Barbara, whether you’re a native or whether 
it’s your adopted city, no matter where you go in the world, Fin sure that 
most people want to come back to Santa Barbara, and here we are. 

Mr. Overbaugh: Oh, I think so too. We're back here now, but no picture 
company. Perhaps we should start one. Anyhow, that’s really quite a tour we 
made in connection with the picture business, and it all started here in Santa 
Barbara, and as Marjorie says, here we are back again after having had a 
lot of very interesting experiences. Oh, there are many amusing and interest- 
ing things in connection with some of these pictures that were made in 
Europe, but it would take a long time to tell that and I can see the end of the 
tape in sight there so I think I’d better conclude these European travels right 



The Santa Barbara Bicentennial History Series, to be published by 
participating local organizations, will soon be available. The series, under 
the editorship of Dr. Doyce B. Nunis, Jr., Professor of History, University 
of Southern California, is made possible through the generosity of Mrs. 
Ernest Menzies and the Thomas More Storke Publication Fund, recently 
established under the Santa Barbara Foundation. 

The entire series will be available through the Arthur H. Clark Company 
at a time to be announced. The Huse Journal, the second volume of the 
series, may be purchased from the Society by members at a ten percent 
(10%) discount. 

By arrangement with Mrs. Menzies, all proceeds from the sale of the 
Journal will go into a special fund to be used for future publications by the 
Society with acknowledgment going to the Thomas More Storke Foundation 
when this fund is used. 




Non-Proflt Org. 
U. S. Postage 
P A I D 

Santa Barbara, 

Permi» No. 534 

Santa Barbara, Calif 

Las Cruces Adobe 

Vol. XXII, No. 1 

Spring, 1976 

Cover photo courtesy I. A. Bonilla. 



Barry N. Zarakov 

In its desire to secure a power base in California, the Spani 
ment in 1769 undertook the establishment of a series of presidios 
coast, each of which was to act as a catalyst for future colonial de 
It was hoped that growth would radiate from these areas as wel 
the major connecting roads. As early as August 17, 1773, we find 
nings of a land grant system in California under Viceroy Antonií 
who issued a decree giving Commandant Rivera y Moneada the 
grant the native population land for raising sheep and cattle. Lí 
were also made to citizens of the pueblos with the stipulation that t 
reside on the land given.» Under Spanish rule, however, little 
actually granted. It was not until México declared its independenci 
9, 1822, after 280 years of Spanish domination, that we find any ¡ 
change in land grant policies. 

Between the years 1822 and 1847, México encouraged cc 
through the passage of liberal laws which allowed the governor to 
traets of land ranging from one to eleven leagues [4,428 to 48,708 
sparsely populated areas. These grants were almost always locat< 
the pueblos. 3 The 1824 law passed by the Mexican Congress stipu 
no one person shall be allowed to obtain the ownership of inore 
square league of irrigatable land, four leagues of land dependent 
seasons [i.e., seasonal rainfall] and six for the purpose of raisinj 

A grant was obtained by petitioning the governor and sub 
diseño (rough map) of the desired land. Since land was so plentii 
early date, little stress was placed on specific boundaries; thus t 
would refer to marked rocks or trees to define the property limits. I 
in surveying and specifically defining the boundaries would prove 
cause of serious problems after the Mexican War for those who hac 
land grants. The petition requesting title would indícate the stat'e oí 
tioner s Mexican citizenship, inilitary and/or citizenship activities, . 
other relevant information concerning the assets and characte 

Upon receipt of a request for a land grant, the governor wc 
the matter to a local prefect or other local official who would \ 
information in the petition, ascertain the loyalty and character of 
tioner, and check to ensure that the desired land was part of ti 
domain. The finished report was then returned to the governor, and 
as the determining factor if the governor liad no personal relation 
the petitioner or local official. If the governor agreed to the grant, 


issue a concedo, an official order to make ready the grant papers.- Once 
issued, the concedo gave the petitioner the legal right to develop lus land, 
even though he still lacked tille. The grant was then subm.tted by the gov- 
ernor to the territorial legislalure for final approval. If denied, the petitioner 
could appeal to the central government. 

When approved, most land grants required that certain conditions be 
,net by the grantee. Brieflv, these were (1) that the grantee construct and 
occupy a permanent residence on the land granted within a year of the grant; 
(21 that the land might be fenced off if this did not interfere with public 
roads ; (3) that the right of those living on said lands [i.e., native Indians] 
be respected; and (4) that the grantee have the local magistrate define and 
measure the boundaries, and that once defined, the grantee mark tliern with 
fmit trees or forest trees of some utility-”" After this final requirement was 
fulfilled, the grantee, now in legal possession of the land, would ceremoniall) 
pulí up grass and earth and throw it about in the four cardinal directions, 
symbolizing ownership. 

In 1835, following the secularization of mission lands, Miguel Cordero, 
a soldier at the Royal Presidio of Santa Barbara, applied to the Governor 
of California, Mariano Chico, for a land grant outside the Presidio. The area 
he desired was the land on which he had been living since his retirement from 
military Service in 1833,’ Cordero’s family had been long established in Cali¬ 
fornia. His father, Mariano Cordero, along with other members of the Cordero 
family. were among the Spanish troops who carne with Gaspar Portóla in 
1769, aiding in the colonizaron of Monterey, San francisco, and Santa 
Barbara." In view of his family heritage, his own work at the Santa Barbara 
Presidio, and the Mexican government’s desire to settle sparsely populated 
arcas, in 1837 Miguel Cordero was granted two leagues of land fomerly be- 
longing to Mission Santa Ynez. 

Cordero s first petition, submitted to Governor Mariana Chico, noted his 
large family and possession of a large number of cattle as sufficient justifica- 
tion for a land grant. Mis request was approved by Chico on July 12, 1836, 
and the grant was confirmed by the Assembly within a month. However, 
before it was confirmed, Chico was forced to vacate office. On May 2, 1837, 
not knowing the fate of his request. Cordero submitted a second petition to 
Governor Juan Bautista Al\ arado," this one calling attention to his livestock, 
military Service, and oíd age as reasons for the grant. Alvarado, who was 
in Santa Barbara at this lime, consented to the grant on May 8, 1837. Ihe 
grant was signed on May 11 and received final approval exactly one week 
later.'° Along with the requested lands, Cordero also was granted the 
sobrante or lands unaccounted for between the land shown on his diseño and 
other nearby rancho lands already accounted for. n It was not until eight 
years later that Cordero had his boundaries officially measured and defined. 1 ' 

While living on this property, probably as early as 1833, Miguel Cordero 
built his adobe house. His grant of 8512.81 acres 1 * soon consisted of two 
fields under cultivation, primarily with wheat and barley, a garden near his 
house, a vineyard containing approximately two thousand grape vines, and 
an orchard of fruit rees including pears, apples and peaches. Cordero, who 
also raised cattle, surrounded his garden, house and one field with a fence as 
permitted by the provisions of the grant. In 1876, Cordero’s eldest son, 
Vicente, added a third orchard of fruit trees. 14 

For many people the years between 1849 and 1856 represented the 
height of the cattle boom. Cattle brought record high prices, and those in¬ 
volved in cattle raising made record profits. Many times those who got rich 
quick liad more money than they were accustomed to: saddles allegedly laden 
with silver and spurs of gold were examples of this encounter with riches. 
Robert Cleland writes: 

... a lady in Santa Barbara amused me by describing the oíd adobe 
houses, with earthen floors covered with costly rugs; four-post bed- 
steads with the costliest lace curtains, and those looped up with lace 
again; and the señora and señoritas dragging trains of massive silk 
and satin over the earthen floor. It must have been an odd mixture 
of squalor and splendor. 15 

Although such may not have been Cordero’s situation, it is probable that 
he, too, partook of the high profits at the time. This is evident in the fact that 
Cordero did engage in the cattle business (leaving over one thousand head 
at the time of his death), ltt although there is no extant record of his income. 

From a report that as late as 1846 the Tulare Indians still fought with 
the Coast Indians and made frequent attacks on residents of the area, steal- 
ing horses and cattle, it is evident that Las Cruces and nearby environs were 
not completely settled. In 1846 there was an alleged attack on the original 
Las Cruces Rancho in which sixteen persons were said to have been trapped 
within the adobe walls in a raid by the Tulare Indians. Accounts of this raid 
spoke of arrows sticking out of the walls of the house. Perhaps typical of 
western justice of those years, the Indians were later pursued and all but one 
killed. The horses were returned to their owners. 17 

Other evidence that this area was still frontier-like is found in an article 
in the Los Angeles Star, which reported on October 20, 1855: 

We well recollect of hearing of the robberies committed on the 
San Buenaventura and Santa Clara Rivers, in the county of Santa 
Barbara, the actual capture and spoilation of the Mission of Santa 
Buenaventura by the Indians, while Santa Ynez, Santa Rosa, 


Lompos [sic], Los Alamos and other exposed Ranchos in the same 

country were actually stripped of all their horses. 18 

In early March, 1851, Miguel Cordero died suddenly after an illness of 
less than twenty-four hours. lw Because of his unexpected death, there was no 
will. His estáte comprised a thousand head of cattle, a considerable number 
of horses, his land, and his house. It is not known how much money was left 
as part of his estáte. 

Shortly thereafter, the United States Congress passed legislation entitled 
“An act to ascertain and settle Prívate Land Claims in the State of Cali¬ 
fornia.” Since many of the original Mexican and Spanish land grants were 
vague in their description of boundaries, the purpose of this act was to 
specify the boundary lines and determine the validity of the titles of the 
various grants now that California was part of the Union. The Act required 
recipients of Mexican land grants to appear before a Board of Land Com- 
missioners within two years with proof of title. If no such proof was avail- 
able, grantees would often lose their land. If proof was presented, and the 
decisión was in favor of the claiinant, the decisión would be appealed by the 
United States to the U. S. District Court where the presentation of proof of 
title was repeated. Following a verdict in this court in favor of the claimant, 
the case was appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court. All this took place at the 
expense of the defendant. Attorneys’ fees were often paid in pareéis of land. 
After the process had reached the Supreme Court, the question of title was 

A second legal process followed all this, pertaining to the patent. This 
latter proceeding demanded that the Surveyor General survey the land at the 
expense of the grantee, after which the District Court would decide whether 
the patent should be issued. 20 Basically, the Act passed in 1851 was a legal 
measure to delay as long as possible the official recognition by the U. S. 
Government of the ownership of lands by Mexicans and native Californians.* 
Granted, as Kathleen Lañe notes, that “the task assigned to this commission 
was great, [it being] asked to decide upon titles to a domain larger than 
many kingdoms of the world, w ith no knowledge of the Spanish people and 
customs, and much less a knowledge of Mexican law,” 21 because of this law 

■ W tule this interpretation of (he California Land Act of 1851 reflects the widespread 
view of the Act as no more than legalized land grabbing, another view holds that the 
basic purpose of the Act was the reinoval of adjudication of land claims from Congress. 
to the courts, where it properly belonged. Although the Las Cruces grant was valid under 
Mexican law. most of the fifty-six grants made by Governor Pió Pico just before the 
cession of California were not. For a discussion of the faets and misconceptions regard- 
ing the California Land. Act, the reader is directed to Paul Gates* article in the California 
Historical Quarter/y for December, 1971.—Editor. 


many of the lands granted originally to native Californians fell into the hands 
of bankers and lawyers during the time their cases were under legal con- 

Since Cordero’s widow, María Antonia Jiménez Cordero, could not read, 
write or speak English, she was not aware of the legal requirements of this 
Act, and since Santa Barbara had no newspaper at the time, there was little 
chance she could have known even if she had been able to read. She continued 
to reside on the land with her children, paying taxes on it until her death in 
1857. 22 

Maria Antonia also died intestate and the Rancho was distributed among 
the nine children in undivided interests. 23 They built their own dwellings on 
the land and continued to live there, breeding sheep, cattle and horses. Be- 
tween 1857 and 1876, six other adobe structures were constructed on the 
ranch, not including additions made to Miguel’s original adobe house. 24 The 
adobe presently referred to as the Las Cruces Adobe was probablv built dur¬ 
ing this time, perhaps about 1860. 

Also during this time, the Corderos engaged in various real estáte trans- 
actions, selling undivided interests in their land probably to compénsate for 
financial losses following a glutted cattle market in the north. In 1860 the 
Corderos rented land to Frank L. Birabent 23 and the same year Pedro Barón 
settled on Rancho Las Cruces, engaging primarily in merchandising and 
stock raising. Barón remained in Las Cruces until 1870. 20 

The period between 1861 and 1864 was one of extremely hard times in 
California. During these years the inhabitants were first subjected to 
abnormal rainé which caused serious flooding throughout the State, followed 
immediately by two years of drought. These forces of nature, assisted by an 
oversupply of cattle in the north in 1860, caused a large depreciation in the 
valué of livestock. Fortunes were lost, the most vulnerable people being 

native Californians and Mexicans. Cattle were sold cheaply so that taxes could 
be paid. Besides the glutted northern markets and the extremes of nature, 
grasshoppers invaded some areas of the state, including Santa Barbara, and 
consumed vital summer and fall pasturage. In 1861, Pedro Carrillo noted in 
Santa Barbara: 

Everybody in this Town is Broke not a dollar to be seen, and 
God bless everyone if things do not change. Cattle can be bought at 
any price, Real Estate is not worth anything . . . 

The “Chapules” [grasshoppers] have taken posession of this 
Town, they have eat all the Barley, Wheat &c. &c. there is not a thing 

left by them, they cleaned me entirely of everything and I expect if 

I do not move out of Town they will eat me also. Dam the 

Chapules,” I have lost about two thousand dollars. 27 

Because of the floods of 1861, which reached an extent “Unknown to 
the oldest inhabitant,” 2 " the collapse of the cattle market in the north, and 
the chapules , one of the most romantic periods of California s history carne 
to an end. By 1864 most Spanish-Americans had been forced to sell their 
lands in order to meet daily living expenses and to pay taxes, primarilv the 
latter. As Cleland notes, “Reduced by mounting debts and unpaid taxes to 
the condition of a ‘devastated grain field,’ the little that was left of their 
once lordly estates passed forever into alien hands.” 2 ” 

That the Corderos were affected by these disasters is unquestioned. Over 
nine-tenths of the cattle, horse and sheep population in Santa Barbara County 
are said to have died during the drought of 1863-1864. 30 Though no records 
exist of the Corderos’ financial condition at this time, in their 1876 petition 
to Congress for the official patent it is mentioned that they were poor and 
lived solely off their land. 31 This suggests that they were unable to make a 
financial comeback following the series of disasters of the sixties. 

After the enactment of the Homestead Act of 1862, the U.S. Surveyor 
General began to measure tracts of land for the thousands of Yankee settlers 
heading west. Since the Corderos never fulfilled the requirements demanded 
by “An act to ascertain. . . the Federal Government considered Rancho 
Las Cruces part of the public domain. Thus in the latter half of the decade, 
lands on Rancho Las Cruces were surveyed to be catalogued as such and 
therefore eligible for homesteading. Seeing this development and the in- 
creased activity in the area due to the stage lines as potential threats, the 
Corderos and others who had purchased undivided interests in Rancho 
Las Cruces 32 submitted a petition to the United States Congress in 1876, 
requesting permission to secure their land patent. Though the title was con- 
firmed to Vicente Cordero et al. on September 7, 1871, 33 without the patent 
the title was meaningless. 

Submitted as part of their petition to Congress were numerous letters 
from prominent citizens of Santa Barbara attesting to the character of the 
Corderos and verifying that they indeed had resided on Rancho Las Cruces 
from 1833. Those submitting depositions included Lewis T. Burton, who had 
known Miguel Cordero, the original grantee of the lands, since 1831; Judge 
Charles Fernald; County and District Court Clerk H. P. Stone, who testified 
that Vicente Cordero had paid taxes on the land since 1850; Judge John 
Maguire: and James L. Ord. Other prominent citizens included State Senator 
Antonio María de la Guerra and the president of the Board of Supervisors, 
Thomas Moore. 34 

San tu RarlarcL Co'CaZ^ 
Surw^ecl Zjf 

Cvunttj Surrejj »r 

s% «.*7 

St.18 s * cV l,l 

Rut» cAc ¿k 

o/’/rcuncAo 3«í*»r«* tUl Rehilo 

Rancho Las Cruces, 1876 


Congress granted the Corderos permission to have their case tried before 
a district court (as required by “An act to ascertain . . .”) and finally on 
August 31, 1880, the grant was confirmed. 33 The land survey was completed 
in August, 1881, and the patent was finally approved July 7, 1883, by A. C. 
McFarland, Commissioner of the General Land Office. 30 

In 1864 one of the bloodiest murders in the history of Santa Barbara 
County took place at Las Cruces over a change of stage coach routes. During 
this time most distant travel was done primarily by stage. A stage stop at one’s 
house provided the owner of the house with a substantial income, the owner 
providing meáis for the travelers and often a night’s lodging as well. This, 
in addition to a crew who boarded full time in order to serve the needs of the 
coach line, resulted in considerable revenue. Thus in 1864 a proposal to alter 
the existing stage line that stopped at Gaviota to a point closer to Las Cruces 
generated much competition for the new station. The final route approved 
was to pass by the house of an American, Wilson Corliss, a sheepherder own- 
ing two or three thousand head as well as an interest in the Las Cruces Ranch. 
Corliss, who lived with his wife and a shepherd, Franc[isc]o Coronado, a 
native Californian, built a house within a mile and a half of the crossroads 
in order to serve the new stage line. 

Within a few days after they moved into their new house, Corliss and 
his wife were beaten and placed inside the house, the door locked from the 
outside, and the structure burned to the ground. Coronado was found sixteen 
days later, his bloody body wedged between some rocks. 

The murder caused a huge uproar in town and a vigilante committee of 
fifty men from Santa Barbara formed at the Saint Charles Hotel, along with 
a sheriff s posse of fifteen men, to pursue the murderers. Foilowing a brief 
inquest they drew up their plan of pursuit. “Both parties were well armed and 
comppsed of determined men wliose purpose was to make short work of the 
murderers if found. 37 

In a cloak-and-dagger escapade, a plan was devised whereby one group 
would go to Gaviota concealed in a stage with its curtains closed so that 
no news of their coming would precede them. The second group would wait 
until dusk before departing. Upon their arrival at Gaviota, the men in the 
stage immediately arrested the members of the Cota family, one of whom 
was Cabeza Blanca, a known desperado. Suspicious-looking chaíácters were 
picked up along the road by the second group, who also collected testimony 
from nearby residents. 

After a sixteen-day investigation at the site of the murder, three major 
suspects emerged. These were the Williams brothers—Bill, Elize, and Steve— 
from Oregon, who lived fairly cióse to the Corlisses and who were competing 
to get the stage coach stop in Las Cruces. 30 So sure were they that they would 
get the new station that the brothers had had a corral and barn built for the 

stage horses. They probably remodeled the interior of the house at this time 
as well as built the exterior wooden additions. Interior changes probably 
included the partioning off of what is now the central bedroom as well as the 
addition of the fireplace in order to meet the new demands to be placed on 
the adobe as a hotel. The exterior rooms were to serve as kitchen, dining 
room, and bedrooms for travelers. 

While the Cotas from Gaviota also had a motive, there was no evidence 
against them. A California woman, Ysabel Yorba, stated that one of the 
Williams brothers had solicited her to place strychnine in the Corliss’s milk, 
which she delivered daily, and this testimony tended to implícate the brothers 
as prime suspects. It was suggested that the brothers be arrested and mock 
hanged until they confessed, but many of the vigilantes felt that such action 
was a bit rash. A vote was taken and it was decided that the evidence was 
circumstantial, the only proven fact being that one brother had proposed 
poisoning the Corliss family. 

The affair finally ended in acquittal for the Williams brothers for want 
of concrete evidence, although it was generally believed by the townspeople 
that they were indeed guilty. After the excitement had died down, the oldest 
brother, Bill, left town to return to Oregon and shortly thereafter the two 
remaining brothers were murdered while camping one night in San Luis 
Obispo. They had left Las Cruces to move their sheep to the Tulare Valley, 
away from the drought-ridden areas. Their murder was evidently unrelated 
to the Corliss incident and appeared to have been done for money. A man 
named Stanner was arrested after he was discovered wearing a gold watch 
belonging to one of the brothers. Stanner had been working for the Williamses 
for only a short time and most likely he had no motive other than robbery. 
He was hanged foj the crime. 39 

The Williams brothers lived in what is now called the Las Cruces Adobe. 
While the adobe was probably built by the Corderos in the late 1850’s, it is 
most likely that the Williams brothers built the wooden exterior additions in 
1864 in anticipation of obtaining the stage route. The original barn that they 
erected no longer stands, the present one having been constructed in the 
1880’s by W. W. Hollister. The oíd stage road passed between the adobe and 
the Hollister barn. 

Following the deaths of three of the Williams brothers, a fourth, A. 
Bascom Williams, arrived in Santa Barbara to investígate the circumstances 
surrounding their deaths as well as to tie up any loose business affairs of 
theirs. He decided in the fall of 1866 to take up residence in Las Cruces and 
remained there until he was elected County Clerk of Santa Barbara in 1880. 40 
While living in the Las Cruces Adobe, Williams “had the unique distinction of 
being postmaster, deputy sheriff, constable, and justice of the peace there.” 41 
A man of many facets, Williams also served as judge of the township court 43 

(a position held formerly by his brother Elize) ,: * as well as managed his 
adobe as a stage stop. 

For four years his adobe served in this capacity. Then, from 1870 to 
1872, the local stage company violated its contract with the U. S. Post Office 
Department. During this period the Las Cruces Adobe, while still considered 
the only post office in the third township of Santa Barbara, received and 
distributed no mail. A letter to the Santa Barbara Press in 1872 noted that 
this violation by the stage line subjected “the people of this part of the County 
to much inconvenience, and positive loss of time and money.” 44 As postmaster, 
Williams received a total of 812 per year in postage stamps as his salary, 
although for these two years his quarterly report simply read no mail 
received, none dispatched. 45 

The stage company evidently remained in violation of its contract until 
late in 1873 when the Santa Barbara Weekly Press mentioned that a new mail 
contract had been negotiated. The new stage route was to go through Gaviota, 
Las Cruces, Nojoqui, and the Santa Ynez Mission, where it would connect 
with Bucklay. 40 This stage line, traveling between Santa Barbara and Guada¬ 
lupe, 47 may llave been the one owned by Don Miguel Burke. 

Traffic to and from the adobe undoubtedly increased substantially after 
1875 when W. W. Hollister, with Thomas and Albert Dibblee, constructed a 
wharf at Gaviota to export their supplies of wool. The wharf soon became 
the major exporting site for the farmers of the Santa Ynez and nearby 
valleys. Many would bring their goods to the wharf by way of the Gaviota 
Pass to be shipped to market by steamer, stopping overnight at the adobe 
before making their way back to Santa Ynez. 4 " 

During the late 1870’s, Williams was elected County Clerk of Santa 
Barbara and moved from Las Cruces into town. In 1877 R. J. Broughton 
moved into the adobe and assumed similar responsibilities as hotel manager, 
storekeeper, and postmaster. 4 " Working at Las Cruces station, he carne into 
contad with many people, and thus the adobe seems to have served as a 
stepping stone to public office, for in 1883 Broughton also became an elected 
official, gaining the position of Santa Barbara County sheriff.-* 10 

It has been suggested that at this time the adobe became notorious as a 
brothel and whiske) emporium, serving the needs of the men on their trip 
back to Santa Ynez. 11 However, to what extent this was true remains in ques- 
tion because the adobe was managed during these years by Sheriff Broughton. 

On June 28, 1880, Vicente Cordero sold his share in Rancho Las Cruces 
to W. W^. Hollister and the Dibblee brothers. local land barons, for 82,218. 
The exact acreage was not specified in the sale, rather the land was simply 
described as Rancho Las Cruces and the neighboring ranches were named 
in order to define the boundaries. 5 * Cordero sold the land in 1880, although 
it was not until Julv 7, 1883, that his patent was finally confirmed.™ Along 


with the sale there may have been a gentlemen’s agreement wherebv the 
Corderos were permitted to continué living on the lands. As far as the occu- 
pants of the Las Cruces Adobe were concerned, there were probably few if 
any consequences from the change of ownership except that they paid their 
rent to a different landlord. 

The Hollister-Dibblee empire continued to grow and by 1891 it com- 
prised over 100,000 acres, including Ranchos San Juan, Salsipuedes, Espirada, 
Santa Anita, Gaviota, and Las Cruces. The entire area was referred to as 
the San Julián Ranch, and the partnership owned between 50,000 and 75,000 
head of sheep and five hundred head of cattle. 54 

With the arrival of the narrow gauge railroad at Los Olivos in 1889, 
farmers from Santa Ynez no longer had to malve the long trip to the Gaviota 
wharf to ship their goods. 55 However, the loss of patronage from the Santa 
Ynez farmers did not hurt Las Cruces in any way, for in the same year the 
Southern Pacific Railroad was extended to the coast. Those stages previously 
using the San Marcos Pass now began taking the easier grade from Gaviota 
to Las Cruces. 50 

Following the death of Sheriff Broughton, a Basque sheepherder, Jacob 
Loustalot, and his wife Rosaline rented the adobe from the Hollisters. The 
adobe still fulfiíled its established function as stage stop, cafe, and bar. bul 
it was no longer a hotel. The station was frequented by the numerous ranch 
hands working for the Hollisters, who stopped by for meáis as well as drinks. 
During the Loustalots’ stay at the adobe, a tack room was added between the 
house and the barn to satisfy the expanded needs of Hollister s ranch. “ 

With the completion of the Southern Pacific Coast Line, use of the adobe 
dwindled rapidly. Although stages continued to link Solvang with the railroad 
at Gaviota as late as 1914, 5H the adobe only served in the capacity of cafe- 
bar. Jacob Loustalot died in 1916 and three years later his wife left Las 
Cruces. Others who lived in the adohe for short periods following the Lousta¬ 
lots were respectively Vicente Ortega, Oliver Johnson, and Frank Lugo. 5 ” 
The Hollisters continued to use the ranch house as a stopover when driving 
their cattle through the pass for shipment by the Southern Pacific. Dibblee 
Poett recalls driving cattle to Gaviota in the late teens, noting: 

We usually left Rancho San Julián in the early morning, arriv- 
ing at Las Cruces about noon, when the cattle would rest and water 
there for about an hour; and then go down the pass. There were 
usually four or five riders in the lead to warn approaching drivers 
or to prevent the lead cattle from straying into the creek or nearby 
hills. 00 

Poett also notes that vaqueros wearing red bandanas rodé in the lead to 
warn motor traffic coming up the pass to pulí off the road and permit the 

herd to continué. After the eariy twenties. cattle were still driven through 
the pass with the aid of members of the California Highway Patrol vvho would 
warn motorists of what was coming down the road, a practice that continued 
until shortly after World War II . 01 Also in the immediate area during the 
twenties were a small store owned by John and Cesarina Loustalot and an inn 
run by Charles Nicholas. 62 

Adobe houses are fragüe structures, and if not cared for properly they 
quickly fall to ruin. A photograph of Rancho Las Cruces taken in 1940 (see 
cover) shows its condition about ten years after it was vacated. Since that time 
a new highway has been built and the adobe has remained virtually ignored, 
subject to much vandalism and malicious mischief. As the forces of nature 
take their toll, most of the shingles have blown off, the roof has caved in, 
and the walls have fallen over. 

In Oetober, 1967, 06 the State of California purchased Rancho Las 
Cruces from the Hollister Company. Since then plans have been made to 
restore the adobe to its condition during the most historically significant 
period of its use—the 1880’s and 1890’s. It would seem within the realm of 
possibility that it might once again be used (perhaps as a youth hostel) for 
lodging travelers inaking their way along the California coast. Although 
today it stands in its ruined State wdth the freeway as a backdrop, the Las 
Cruces Adobe serves to remind us of an important part of Santa Barbara 
County’s history. 


1. Rose H. Avina. Spanish and Mexican Land Grants in California (San Francisco, 
1973), p. 16. 

2. Between 1822 and 1847, 428 Mexican land grants were approved in California. For 
a complete list of these grants, see Avina, Ibid., pp 36-90. 

3. Charles E. Huse, Sketch a) the History and Resources of Santa Barbara City and 
County, California (Santa Barbara, 1876), p. 14. Different sources quote different 
acreage equivalents for Spanish leagues. Huse gives 4,438 acres per league, while 
Avina give 4,428. 

4. Robert H. Becker, Diseños of California Ranchos: Maps of Thirty-seven Land Grants 
(1822-1846), from the Records of the United States District Court, San Francisco 
(San Francisco, 1964), p. xii. 

5 .Ibid., pp. xiii-xiv. United States district courts. when later verifying individual claims 
of Mexican land grantees, considered the date of the concedo as the legal cession of 
land from the public domain. 

6. Ibid., p. xiv. 

7. Ibid., Chapter 28. 

8. H. H. Bancroft, History of California, 2. p. 767. 

9. lor text of his request, see Appendix I. 

10. hor text concerning the ceremony following approval. see Appendix II. 

11. Becker, loe. cit. 


12 -Ibid. The Rancho Las Cruces was defined until this time as being bordered on the 
north by Rancho Santa Rosa and Nojoqui; on the northeast and east by the Cuchilla 
(ridge) and Nojoqui; on the south by Rancho Gaviota; and on the west by Rancho 
San Julián. 

13. This figure represents the final size of the Ranch ultimately determined by the 
United States Surveyor General in 1881. Santa Barbara County Surveyor’s Office. 
Patents, Book A., p. 584. 

14. / n the Matter of Rancho Las Cruces, Santa Barbara County, California. Petition to 
Congress by Claimants (Washington, D. C., 1876), pp. 12, 20. 

15. Robert Glass Cleland, The Cattle on a Thousand Hills: Southern California, 1850-1880 
(San Marino, 1951), p. 106. 

16. In the Matter of . . ., op cit., p. 20. 

17. Jesse D. Masón, History of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties (Oakland, 1883), 
p. 301. 

18. Anonymous, “índian Affairs in the South,” The Los Angeles Star, Oct. 20, 1855, p. 2. 

19. In the Matter of . . ., op cit., p. 21. 

20. Huse, op. cit., p. 23. 

21. Kathleen Rosella Lañe, The Eariy History of Goleta (unpublished thesis, University 
of Southern California, 1935), p. 33. 

22. In the Matter of . . ., op cit., pp. 22, 24. 

23. Ibid., p. 22. Miguel’s children were José Antonio, Vicente, José Gregorio de Jesús 
Miguel Higinio, Juan de Parma, José de Jesús, Tomas de Jesús, Isabel, María Reyes 
(died in infaney), José Salvador, Juan Jesús Antonio, and María Teresa (died in 
infaney). Santa Barbara Historical Society genealogical records. 

24. Ibid., pp. 36, 39, 44. 

25. Owen H. O Neill, History of Santa Barbara (County — Its People and Its Resources 
(Santa Barbara, 1939), II, p. 142. 

26. Relatives of Barón, Pierre and Irán Barón, purchased land at an auction held by 
order of the Superior Court in 1861. Santa Barbara County Hall of Records, Book of 
Deeds, Book C., p. 587. 

27. Cleland, op., cit., p. 126. 

28. Ibid., p. 130. 

29. Ibid., p. 136-137. 

30. According to Huse, iess than eight inches of rain fell this year (Huse, op. cit., p. 14). 

31. In the Matter of . . ., op. cit., p. 25. 

32. The nine parties listed in the 1876 Petition inelude: (1) Vicente Cordero; (2) Juan 
J. Cordero; (3) Heirs of Ysabel Cordero Yalenzuela (deceased)— Refugia, Felipa, 
María Antonia, Concepción, Micaela, Gertrudis, Juan, and Eugenio; (4) A. Blascoml 
Williams; (5) Thomas B. Dibblee; Albert Dibblee, and W. W. Hollister; (6) Ramón 
Gonzales; (7) J. M. Short; (8) O. D. Metcalf: (9) Heirs of Augustus J. Dinsmore 
(deceased)—Sarah, Albert, Bradley T., Fanny E., Thomas, Irwin W ; . 

33. O’Neill, op. cit., frontispiece map. 

34. In the Matter of . . ., op. cit., pp. 5ff. 

35. Becker, op... cit., Chapter 28. 

36. Santa Barbara County Surveyor’s Office, Patents, Book A., p. 584. 

37. William A. Streeter, “Recoliection of historical events in California, 1843-1878,” 

edited by William Ellison, California Historical Society Quarterly, XVIII. No 3 
(1939), p. 262. 7 

38. Elize Williams was justice of the Third Township at the time of the murder. 

39. Streeter, op. cit., pp. 262-264. 

40. Anonymous, “A. B. Williams Services to be tomorrow,” The Morning Press, Feb. 16, 
1937, p. 3, and Santa Barbara County Archives, Office of the Clerk of the Board. 

41. Anonymous, “New mail routes,” Santa Barbara Weekly Press, July 19, 1873, p 5 

42. The Morning Press, loe. cit., reported on his death in 1937 that Williams was proud 
of his record as judge, “for he never opened a docket but was able to get litigants 
together in a conference, at which they invariably settled their differences amicably 
out of court.” 

43. Streeter, op. crt., p. 262. 

44. Fessor, “Letter from Las Cruces,” Santa Barbara Press, June 15, 1872, p: 2. This 
letter also calis attention to Las Cruces as a future rural retreat for pleasure and 
healtli seekers because of the nearby sulfur hot springs (temperature 95°), located 
iess than a mile from the adobe. 

45 Ibid. 

46. Anonymous, “New mail routes,” loe. cit. 

47. Walker Tompkins. Yankee Barbareños íunpublished MS in the Santa Barbara Public 
Library). According to an advertisement in the Santa Barbara Press of March 23, 
1872, page 1, in the 1870’s it took forty-eight hours to travel from Santa Barbara to 
San Francisco via the Coast Line Stage. 

In March, 1874, Burke changed the stage route to bypass Las Cruces and go 
“¡JJ* 1 T Marcos Pass and Ballard. However, according to O’Neill (op. cit., p. 
460), Las Cruces was a stage stop from 1878 through 1901. It is probable that more 
than one stage serviced this stop, so that although Burke changed his route, other 
stages continued to stop at the Las Cruces Adobe. 

48. Dihblee Poett, “The Gaviota Pass,” Noticias (quarterly bulletin of the Santa Barbara 
Historical Society), X, No. 2 (1964), p. 8. 

49. \ da Addis Storke, A Memorial and Biogruphical History of the Counties oj Santa 
Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura (Chicago, 1891), p. 491. 

ci TT/ St ii S t er ^? ^ anta Barbara County in Santa Barbara Historical Society Library. 

51 1975 p ¿° 8 mpk,ns ’ “ Las Cruces Hotel ruins ” Rnrbara NewsPress, Feb. 23, 

52. Santa Barbara County Hall of Records, Book oj Deeds, Book W, p. 62. The land was 
r esenbed as bounded on the south by Rancho La Gaviota, which is part of the 

anc io . uestra . enora del Refugio; on the west by Rancho San Julián, and land 
ol the part íes of the second part íi.e., the Hollisters and Dibblees), on the north by 
anc io anta^ Rosai and public lands of the United States, and on the east by Rancho 
INojoqui, the Cuchilla (ridge) of the Nojoqui and by public lands of the United States. 

53. Santa Barbara County Surveyor’s Office, Patents, Book A., p. 584. 

54. Storke, op.. cit., p. 652. 

55. Poett, op. cit., pp. 8-10. 

56. Tompkins, YB, op. cit., p. 609. 

11' T lerv , iew w * th Vicente Ortega, April 24, 1975. 

58. Iompkins, YB, op. cit., p. 609. 

59. Interview with Caroline D. Henning, April 26, 1975. 

ou. roett, loe. cit. 

61. Ibid. 

62. Interview with Caroline D. Henning, April 26, 1975. 

. * anta Barbara County Hall of Records, Book 2207, p. 1050, Oct. 10. 1967. 


I would like to express my appreciation to the following for their con- 
tnbutions to this study: Dr. David Gebhard, Robert Gates, Librarían of the 
ar bara Historical Society, and members of the Las Cruces Adobe 
visor> Committee. For their criticisms and aid in the final preparation of 
01se teXt5 ^ Ft ^ er & rat * tuc k due Sarah L. Speik, Sharon Swigart and Sonja 


To His Excellency, the Governor: 

I, Miguel Cordero, of this vicinity, before your excellency, with due 
respect, appear and say; That, being desirous of devoting myself to agrb 
culture, since I am the owner of a considerable amount of stock, and being 
aware that, under the laws of colonization, I must apply to your honor, as I 
do, asking for a grant of the place named “Las Cruces.” This tract of ’land, 
although it has belonged to the ex-mission of Santa Ines, is at present un- 
occupied, and the said mission does not need the same. Wherefore I think 
that the same is in a condition to be colonized, and I think there is nothing 
to prevent said place from being granted. 

My oíd age, and the military Services I have given to the country, impel 
me to make this petition to your honor. 

Wherefore I pray your honor to be pleased to grant my petition, ad- 
mitting this on common paper, for want of sealed paper. 

Santa Barbara, May 2d, 1837. 

At the request of the petitioner. 


(Translation of Expediente , presented as Exhibit “B” at proceedings 
In the Matter of Rancho Las Cruces) 


On the said Rancho of Las Cruces, and on the same day, month, and 
year, Don Miguel Cordero, a resident of the port of Santa Barbara, in com- 
pany with the Alcalde and the assisting witnesses: he said, that the lands of 
t is Rancho, having been measured, as shown by the foregoing proceedings, 
he took the true and corporal possession of the said lands, since they be¬ 
longed to him by the just title, which was issued to him by the superior 
government of the department. He entered upon and passed over said lands 
pulling up herbage and scattering handfuls of earth, breaking branches of 
trees, and making other demonstrations, as a sign of the possession, which 
he said he took, of said land. Whereupon I, the said Alcalde, ordered that, 
from that time forth, he should be considered as the owner and possessor of 
the same. 

Of all of which the said Miguel Cordero asked a testimony for the future 
secunty of his rights, which I, the said Alcalde, gave, signing the same with 
the assisting witnesses. 



Assist. JOSÉ Ma. ORTEGA. 

(Translation of document in support of petition 
In the Matter of Rancho Las Cruces) 


Primary Sources 

In the Matter of Rancho Las Cruces. Petilion to Congress by Claimants. 
Washington, R. O. Polkinhouse, Printer, 1876. 

Santa Barbara County Hall of Records, Book of Deeds, Book C, p. 587. 

_ Book of Deeds, Book W, p. 62. 

_______ Book of Deeds, Book Y, pp. 52, 539. 

_ 9 Book of Deeds, Book 2207, p. 1050. 

Santa Barbara County Surveyor’s Office, Patents, Book A, p. 584. 

__ Map of Rancho Las Cruces, March 1907. 

Santa Barbara Historical Society: Genealogy of Miguel Cordero. 

Secondary Sources 

Anonymous, “A. B. Williams Services to be tomorrow,” The Morning Press, 

Vol. LXX1V, No. 108 (Feb. 16, 1937), p. 3. 

__. Indian affairs in the south,” The Los Angeles Star, 

Vol. V, No. 23 (Oct. 20, 1855), p. 2. 

___ New mail routes, 9 ' Santa Barbara Weekly Press, 

Vol. V, No. 3 (July 19, 1873), p. 5. 

Avina, Rose H., Spanish and Mexican Land Grants in California, San Fran¬ 
cisco, R. and E. Research Associates, 1973 (reprint of author’s thesis, 
University of California, 1932). 

Bancroft, Hubert Howe, History of California, San Francisco, The History 
Company, 1886. 

Becker, Robert H., Diseños of California Ranchos: Maps of Thirty-seven 
Land Grants (1822-1846), from the Records of the United States Distnct 
Court, San Francisco, San Francisco, The Book Club of California, 1964. 
Cleland, Robert Glass, The Cattle on a Thousand Hills, San Marino, The Hunt- 
ington Library, 1951. 

Fessor, “Letter from Las Cruces,” Santa Barbara Press, Vol. III, No. 51 
(June 15, 1872), p. 2. 

Huse, Charles E., Sketch of the History and Resources of Santa Barbara City 
County, California, Santa Barbara, Office of the Daily Press, 1876. 
Lañe, Kathleen Rosella, The Early History of Goleta, Masters Thesis, Uni- 
versity of Southern California, 1935. 

Masón, Jesse D., History of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, California, 
Oakland, Thompson & West, 1883. 

O’Neill, Owen H., History of Santa Barbara County, State of California, Its 
People and Its Resources • Santa Barbara, Union Printing Company, 
19 39. 

Phillips, Michael J., History of Santa Barbara County, California, from Its 
Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Chicago, S. J. Clarke Publishing 
Company, 1927. 

Poett, Dibblee, “The Gaviota Pass,” Noticias (quarterly publication of the 
Santa Barbara Historical Society), Vol. X, No. 2 (Spring, 1964), 

pp. 8-10. 

Santa Barbara Historical Society: List oí Sheriffs of Santa Barbara County. 
Santa Barbara Planning Commission, Masler Plan of Santa Barbara: Roads 
and Highways, Santa Barbara, Nov. 15, 1938. 

Storke, Yda Addis, A Memorial and Biographical Hislory of the Counties of 
Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura, Chicago, The Lewis Pub- 
lishing Co., 1891. 

Streeter, William A., “Recollections of historical events in California, 1843- 
1878,” (edited by William Henry Ellison), California Historical Society 
Quarterly, Vol XVIII, No. 3 (Sept., 1939), pp. 254-278. 

Tompkins, Walker A., Yankee Barbareños, unpublished MS at Santa Barbara 
Public Library. 

_ _ “Las Cruces Hotel ruins,” Santa Barbara Netvs-Press, 

Vol. CXX, No. 277 (Feb. 23, 1975), p. C-8. 


Mr.& Mrs. I. A. Bonilla, March 17, 1975. 
Caroline D. Henning, April 26, 1975. 
Cesarina Loustalot, May 5, 1975. 

Vicente Ortega, April 24, 1975. 

Dibblee Poett, April 15, 1975. 


Robert W. Bates of Carpintería has drawn our attention to the following 
account by Dr. M. H. Biggs, a physician who carne to Santa Barbara in 1853 
and later became an associate of Mr. Bates 9 father, Dr. C. B. Bates. It appears 
in a collection of accounts dealing with psychic and other phenomena pub- 
lished in 1903 1 The term “magnetism ” as used here derives from the 18th - 
century Austrian mystic and physician Franz Antón Mesmer, who believed 
hypnosis was an occult forcé , which he called “animal magnetism ” that 
flowed through the hypnotist to the subject. The term “hypnotism” was coined 
in the mid‘19th century by James Braid, an English physician who recognized 
the psychological nature of the phenomenon. As this account by Dr. Biggs 
shows, hypnosis was used by 19th-century physicians more as a curiosity 
than as therapy, and scientijic investigation had to wait until the 1920 9 s and 

October 18th, 1885 

. . . Another case . . . was the first of this kind of experiment I tried; 
it was in Santa Barbara, California. I was staying there in 1879 with a friend, 
Mr. G. 2 a long-resident chemist of that town. His wife had a kind of half serv- 
ant and half companion, a girl of about eighteen, who complained to me one 
day of a pain through her chest. Without her knowing what I intended to do, I 
tried magnetism; she fell into a deep magnetic sleep in a few minutes. With 
this subject I tried many interesting experiments, which I will pass over. 
One day I magnetized her as usual, and told her in a whisper (I had found her 
to be more susceptible this way than when I spoke aloud in my usual voice), 
“You will have a red cross appear on the upper part of your chest, only on 
every Friday. In the course of some time the words Sancta above the cross and 
Crucis underneath it will appear also; at the same time a little blood will 
come from the cross.” In my vest pocket I had a cross of rock crystal. I 
opened the top button of her dress and placed this cross on the upper part 
of her manubrium, a point she could not see unless by aid of a looking-glass, 
saying to her, “This is the spot where the cross will appear.” This was on 
a Tuesday. I asked Mrs. G. to watch the girl and teli me if anything seemed 
to ail her. Next day Mrs. G. told me she had seen the girl now and again put 
her left wrist over the top of her chest, over the dress; this was frequently 
repeated, as if she felt some tickling or slight irritation about the part, but 
not otherwise noticed; she seemed to carry her hand up now and then un- 
consciously. When Friday carne I said, after breakfast, “Come, let me mag- 
netise you a little; you have not had a dose for several days.” She was always 

iFrederick William Ilenry Myers, Human personality and its survival of bodily death. 
N. Y., Longmans, 1903. 2 vols. 

2 Benigno Gutiérrez, whose drugstore is still in business at 635 State Street. 

willing to be magnetized, as she always expressed herself as feeling very much 
rested and comfortable afterwards. In a few minutes she was in deep sleep. 
I unbuttoned the top part of her dress, and there, to my complete and utter 
astonishment, was a pink cross, exactly over the place where 1 had put the 
one of crystal. It appeared every Friday, and was invisible on all other days. 
This was seen by Mr. and Mrs. G., and by my oíd friend and colleague, 
Dr. B., a who had become much interested in my experiments in magnetism, 
and often suggested the class of experiments he wished to see tried. About 
six weeks after the cross first appeared I had occasion to take a trip to the 
Sandwich Islands. Before going I magnetised the girl, told her that the cross 
would keep on showing itself every Friday for about four months. I intended 
my trip to the Islands to last about three months. I did this to save the girl 
from the infliction of this mark so strangely appearing perhaps for a lifetime. 
in case anything might happen to me and prevent me from seeing her again. 
I also asked Dr. B and Mr. G. to write me by every mail to Honolulú, and 
tell me if the cross kept appearing every Friday, and to be careful to note 
any change, such as the surging of blood or the appearance of the words 
Sancta Crucis. I was rather curious to know if the distance between us, the 
girl and myself, over 2,000 miles, made any difference in the apparition of 
the cross. While I was at the Sandwich Islands 1 received two letters from 
Mr. G. and one from Dr. B. by three different mails, eaeh telling that the 
cross kept on making its appearance as usual; blood had been noticed once, 
and also part of the letter S above the cross, and nothing more. I returned in 
a little less than three months. The cross still made its appearance every 
Friday, and did so for about a month more, but getting paler and paler until 
it became invisible, as nearly as possible four months after I left for the 
Sandwich Islands. The above-mentioned young woman was a native Cali- 
fornian, of Spanish parentage, about eighteen years of age, in tolerably good 
health, parents and grandparents alive. She was of fair natural intelligence, 
but utterly ignorant and uneducated . . . 

— M. H. Biggs, M. D. 

3 Dr. C. 8. Bates, associate of Dr. Biggs. 



Non-Profit Org. 
U. S. Postage 

Santa Barbara, 

Permit No. 534 

Santa Uarbara, Calif. 93Pfl 

Sentí! Seriara <"*:y L&rary 

Vol. XXII, No. 2 

Summer, 1976 



Henry Brown 

To the casual observer it might seem unlikely tliat Carpintería was once 
the center of lima bean culture. Notliing now would suggest it unless one can 
look out the window at two bean threshers of the 1920’s as I can here at 
the Rancho Laguna. Field crops have changed to nurseries, and unless one 
can remember the fields and warehouses, they might never have been. 

The career of Henry Fish* followed the rise and fall of lima beans as 
Carpinteria’s dominant crop. Arriving in Carpintería in 1873, Henry stayed 
with the Olmstead family and, though not a farmer himself, he observed 
the rapid transformation of the valley as the Americans experimented with 
a new kind of farming — one without summer rains — that was to replace the 
Mexican rancho system. Stephen Olmstead had planted fifteen acres of 
cherries, but found that Carpinteria’s winters were too mild to “put them 
to sleep.” This lack of a definite dormant season left them indifferent when 
it carne time to set a crop. Almonds, walnuts, apricots and citrus were being 
planted, and in Serena Bob McAlister planted lima beans during the 1873 
and 1874 seasons. But the industry may be said to have begun in 1875 
with Henry’s letter to D. M. Ferry of the firm that became Ferry-Morse Seed 
Company of Detroit, and to have declined by the time of his retirement in 
1925, when beans were being replaced by lemons, walnuts and other crops 
that needed irrigation. Limas went from a small novelty to a position of 
dominance. Without any figures to prove it, I believe it safe to say that during 
that time limas totalled more acreage than other crops combined, excepting 
hay; much hay was needed to feed the work horses and milk cows. 

Ben Fisli’s Recollections, 1955 

“Carpintería was the place for my father, Henry, the younger brother 
of his family. His brothers promptly sold Henry a piece of land, the best they 
had. Not wanting this beloved brother to take any risks, they gave him clear 
title to all he could pay for and plenty of time on enough more to make a 
good farm. It was about sixteen years before this farm was surveyed and cut 
up into fifty foot lots. The surveyor, formerly the butcher’s boy, was Frank 
F. Flournoy, who bought the first lot in 1888, the year of my birth. The 
farm with two others comprised the townsite, and father’s house was on the 
central córner now Linden Avenue and State Highway 101. 

“Stephen Olmstead was one of the three who owned the townsite first 
laid out for Carpintería. He had been a partner of my únele, Charles Fish, 
in trips across the plains. These two men lived to be past eighty when they 
visited together at our home. 1 had heard their tales of adventure which 

*Mr. Brown is Henry Fish’s grandson. This article was originally written for the 
Carpintería Historical Society under the title “Henry Fish and the Bean Business.” 

— 1 — 

would put one in mind oí the travels of Jedediah Smith. 

“The present Southern Pacific station is located on land formerly owned 
by Mrs. James Ashley, the third owner in Carpintería townsite^ 
There was danger that the Carpintería stat.on would be located at Oíd 
Town” about a mile northwest of the present center of Carpintería. Suf- 
ficient space for a station would have to be contributed. This was finally given 
by Mrs Ashley, but under the repeated protest, ‘But it is my best córner, 

Mr ' “¡fw« i. d» erocer, bu.™» * F„»ont, Nebraska, .h.l the «I 
business of D. M. Ferrv & Co. first carne to father s attention. erry hac 
been established only a short time, but had gained the confidence of th,s 

y ^eh^agrocery ^ & Co-) o{ Detr oit, Michigan, now Ferry-Morse 

Seed Company, that father wrote. And it was the clear weather at harvest 
time that so interested Mr. Ferry that he personally carne to father s house 
to see about growing lima beans for seed. Mr. Ferry was perfectly a home 
in manner and custom as he sat in father’s yard, on a log, and wrote wit 
a pencil a contract for the planting of 200# Large White Pole Lima Beans. 
Then, carefully, another copy was made, and it really was a copy, as no 

carbón paper was available. . . A 

“In the years that followed, much effort was expended in trying to find 
one or another of these copies. They had to do with the history of the Ferry. 
Morse Seed Company, as well as the starting of father s business, and they 
provided the basis for the first commercial shipment of lima bean seed and 
probably other dried lima beans, from Califorma (100 bushels). 

“It was thought best to plant this seed on an acreage nearer the moun- 
tains [i.e., nearer than the Fish property]. This was done by an arrange- 
ment between father and Bob McAlister on property owned later by Rystrom 
and then by Monte Vista Dairy, or about a mile directly north of the centei 

of Carpintería.” , , 

Five years after Ben Fish’s memoirs, Georgia Stockton wrote in her 

well-researched book La Carpintería, “In the late 1860s Robert McAlister . . 
drove into Santa Barbara to meet his brother who had come in on a sailmg 
ship . . . Among the ports where they had loaded cargoes of hides and 
tallow this McAlister had seen the fíat white beans at Callao, chief seaport 
of Perú, where they were a common commodity for ship’s stores. 1 bey were 
called he was told, limas, and they grew on the hilly farms surroundmg the 
Peruv’ian capital. Robert McAlister ate some of the beans at dinner on board 
ship and when he went ashore he carried ten pounds which the cook had 
packed for liirn, which he planted in his garden. The yield was so successful 
that ranchers from all over the valley carne to see the new bean. McAlister 
was generous with the seed and many other plots were sown with equally 
good results.” 


— 2 — 

Within the next ten years Henrv Fish got in touch with all the major 
seed companies and Carpinteria’s larger farmers were all growing limas. 
The mild damp climate of the coast which was favorable to growing the 
unirrigated crops was also important at threshing time when, if the beans 
became too dehydrated, they could not properly be threshed because the 
danger of large or small cracks would ruin them as seed. It was also found 
that surplus stocks of seed could be held over until the following year with- 
out much deterioration, whereas in the east they would deteriórate badly in 
the hot summer. 

In the beginning the beans were shipped by steamer from Serena or 
Santa Barbara. Later they were freighted by wagón to the railroad in Los 
Angeles and eventually to Santa Paula and Ventura as the railroad moved 
up the coast. 

As the Santa Barbara paper of May 24, 1880, reported, . . everybody 
down there is crazy on lima beans. They have even planted beans along the 
roadway. Beans, Beans, Beans as far as the eye can reach. Beans enough out 
there . . . to make the whole city of Boston happy for years to come.” Not 
only Boston, however, for limas were an integral part of the Carpintería diet; 
indeed, during the time when Carpintería residents were almost totally de- 
pendent on agriculture, limas were a way of life. With fresh beans in summer 
and dry beans boiled with ham the rest of the year, they occupied the same 
place in the local diet that pinto or navy beans have traditionally occupied 
in other places. The bulk of the production was generally of commercial or 
edible beans, but the Carpintería specialty—quality seed beans grown with 
love and care—was what made the ñame “limas” synonymous with Carpin¬ 
tería in the seed world, and the following letter demonstrates the dependence 
of the Wholesale seedsman on the integrity of his grower, especially when 
Henry Fish still held a virtual monopoly on the trade. At the time of this 
letter, the railroad was expected to cross Linden Avenue at 7th Street. The 
location of the depot laid the groundwork for the Linden Avenue business 

Carpintería, Aug. 4, 1887 

Messers D. M. Ferry and Co. 

Detroit, Mich. 


Please find enclosed report of crops. The season is favorable so far. 

Just at planting time land I had rented for years and depended upon 

was sold. That cut short my acreage and to remedy that I agreed 

with other growers (who had seed of mine—I knew to be puré) 

to furnish me any I may need to fill my contract. 

In that way I had provided for all, but the crop to which I looked 

— 3 — 

for Dutch Case knife beans has failed so I will be short one half of 
them. Should anything occur to prevent or cut short the supply 
of Sevior Snall Limas, I have some of last years crop I would 
furnish you making due allowance. 

The coming of the railroad and making their depot adjoining my 
land has brought such a change in valúes I will have to find another 
place to raise beans another year and I intend to be prepared to 
grow all you can order. 

Very respectfully 

Henry Fish 


The first harvests were accomplished by pulling the vines in the fall 
and, when they were dry, bringing them to the barn or to a round Mexican- 
style corral. The vines would be scattered on the floor or ground and a 
vaquero would drive mustangs or cattle around the circle. Meanwhile a man 
in the middle with a pitchfork would keep turning the straw. The time- 
honored Mexican method was replaced by horse-drawn dises and later by the 
steam tractor and threshing machine. Chaparral wood fired the boiler and 
it was an efficient operation. Henry Fish ? s harvest machine was one of the 
first, and he loaned or rented it to other growers. Juan Romero told me how 
shocked they were when they learned that Henry would not use or allow 
others to use his machine on Sundays, in spite of heavv demand or threaten- 
ing weather. 

The harvest was a busy time for everyone. Early in September the beans 
were cut by a sled dragging two knives and pulled by three horses. The beans 
were piled with pitch-forks and left to dry, and ideally the weather should 
not be too foggy or the rains too early, but too much heat or Santa Ana 
winds could be bad also. 

Much activity and anticipation preceded the threshing, and at the 
proper time the thresher was put in position and the beans hauled up on 
wagons. The precious beans were sewed up in sacks and hauled to a safe 
place every night. There was the story of a farmer who carne out to his 
threshing operation one morning to find that some sacks were missing. 
Tracking a suspected wagón through the dusty ground was no problem until 
one carne to the road where other horses and wagons could make the process 
difficult. It happened that on this occasion one sack had a small hole in 
it and the jolting of the wagón caused a bean to fall out periodically along 
the way. The farmer was able to ignore the wagón tracks and follow a trail 
of beans to the proper (or improper) house. 

Gleaners would go into the fields after the wagons, and Carpinteria took 
on an Oíd World aspect as the older Mexican women in long skirts and 
rebozos would gather scattered beans. At the age of eight I was given sacks 

and sent forth to glean. My two or three sacks of pods were sent through 
the machine after the last wagón finished. The beans were measured and 
were the basis of my first bank account — $6. 

When sufficient beans were ready, the warehouse was activated. This 
was an annual event for the community, the oldest tradition they had. A well- 
established hierarchy would swing into action: twenty or thirty sharp-eyed 
women would pick the beans by hand on a moving belt after they had been 
over the screens and blowers. It was an expensive process, but necessary 
to produce good seed. A large staff would handle the various duties in the 
warehouse and office, as well as related duties outside. 

The farmers were paid for their beans as soon as they were cleaned and 
weighed, but Henry had to deliver them to the eastern companies and get 
his returns the following spring. This system required heavy financing and 
several members of his family were involved. Two of his growers, Bernard 
Franklin and Simeón Shephard were also finanicial backers. As the business 
expanded, it became necessary to finance through the bank. Because of ex- 
tensive family commitments, Henry was chronically short of money, but he 
got some needed help when his older son Harry (Henry Berrian) took a 
keen interest in the business. The continuing quest for new and improved 
varieties gave zest to what was otherwise a routine affair on the home front. 
Harry’s weed hoeing was interrupted in the summer of 1903 by the discovery 
of two unusual bush-type plants in the field of runner or vine-type beans. 
They were carefully saved and propagated. “My son Harry,” wrote Henry 
Fish, “found a plant which was new to us. We went out to see it and found 
it so different from anything we had seen that we could not identify it . . . 
It was some time before I could spare enough from the seed I was saving to 
cook a mess and see that they had lost nothing of the choice flavor of Dreer’s 
Bush which grows too cióse to the ground and is more subject to mildew. 
This was a stronger bush and held the pods up full from the ground. This 
Fordhook, like the Henderson Bush, has become so popular not only with 
seedsmen but also with growers, that so many were produced as to break the 
market. If we could find something else to grow on part of our land and 
not overload the market with beans, we would probably do better.” 

The year 1910 was a landmark year with the building of a warehouse, 
the first in Carpinteria, and the business became a family Corporation. 
Henry’s older sons Harry and Tom were assistant managers and daughter 
Hester was secretary. The third son, Ben, entered the business later. In 1912 
a special train of the Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco stopped to 
see the valley and tour the warehouse (probably the company’s finest hour) 
and in 1915 the seed company provided the bean display for the Panama- 
Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. 

In the fall of 1916 (?) the weather was so foggy and damp that there 
was danger of losing the entire crop. For lack of drying breeze the beans 

were rotting. Adrián (Buddy) Wood passed the time of day with Henry, 
and Henry remarked that when he left Nebraska he had hoped to find a place 
where there was something between him and the North Po e, ,u ,n 

went too far.’’ . T A , 

At the cióse of the American seed trade convention ín Los Angeles in 

1925 some of the members carne to Santa Barbara where a fiesta-type part\ 
celebrated Henry Fish’s fifty years in the seed business. At 82 he stepped 
down from active affairs. Harry Fish continued the Carpintería operation 
and later Harry’s widow continued on until 1950. Carpintería had ecome 
important in the production of green limas for eastern markets as the pro- 
duction of dry beans was phased out and moved to Oxnard and other 
coastal areas. The green limas suddenly ended with the advent of mechan,cal 
harvesting and freezing of green limas about 1947 and 1948. Fall tomatoes 
became an important crop and the bean house became a tomato packing 


I shall conclude with a poem by Frank Roberts, a warehouse stalwart 
in 1914 who made his apologies to Longfellow. I have revised his efforts 
and may my apologies to him. 

The Tale of the Seasons 

Near the shore of the great Pacific 
Beside the S.P. track so oíd 
In the midst of a fertile valley 
Stands a building stern and bold. 

There stands the warehouse deserted 
The creaking rafters and beams 
Speak, in accents disconsolate 
To the deep-voiced ocean streams. 

But where are the jolly good girls 
The laughing and gay señoritas 
Who picked to the tune of the cleaner 
And sang to its rhythmic whiris. 

But the cars of Oxnard limas 
In the Fall roll up like thunder 
And the Lompoc “Henderson Bush” 

And Salinas “Kentucky Wonder.” 

And then, the final shipment 
And here the care becomes great 
To put all large and small orders 
On the proper East-bound freight. 

For naught must go wrong with the shipment 
If our company’s ñame we hold dear 
And this is the tale of the seasons 
As our beans go out far and near. 

— 7 — 



Richard S. Whitehead 

A volcano in Santa Barbara County? Incredible! True, we do have hot 
springs and earthquakes, but where are the craters, the cinder cones, the lava 
flows and other signs of volcanic activity? Yet one writer of County history 
claimed that a volcano was discovered in 1784 on the beach at a point one 
and a half leagues west of the Presidio of Santa Barbara: in 1927 Michael J. 
Phillips published a history of Santa Barbara County 1 in which he describes 
the discovery, concludes it was located somewhere in the vicinity of Booth’s 
Point (the point of land at the eastern end of East Beach between the Bird 
Refuge and the ocean), and expresses wonder that no tradition of it has 
survived the passage of time and that no one has determined its precise 

To local buffs of the history, geography, or geology of Santa Barbara 
County, this account offers a challenge, ll does seem strange that from 1784 
to 1927 no one had seen or written about such a phenomenon. A search of 
the writings of O’Neill, Gidney, Storke, and Thompson & West, the major 
historians, failed to reveal any mention of the volcano. However, such a 
historical research project is incomplete if it omits a review of the many 
volumes of the History of California by Hubert Howe Bancroft, first published 
in 1886. Such a review disciosed the origin of Phillips’ information. 2 

The footnotes in Bancroft’s history are a gold mine of information about 
early documents, many of which were destroyed in the San Francisco earth- 
quake and fire of 1906, but the summaries, excerpts and, in some cases, 
complete copies made by the scribes employed by Bancroft survived and are 
incorporated in the “California Archives” in the Bancroft Library at the 
University of California at Berkeley. By utilizing these footnotes and trans- 
lating the “California Archives” documents from the Spanish, the details of 
the original “volcano” story can be filled in. 

On September 6, 1784, Pedro Fages, governor of Alta and Baja Cali¬ 
fornia from July, 1782, to April, 1791, wrote a letter to Commanding 
General Felipe de Neve which was summarized by the scribes as follows: 

In Santa Barbara, at the edge of the beach that is halfway to 
Mescaltitlan, they have found an active volcano that the Indians 
say is very oíd. It is deep. It emits a thin smoke like sulfur, and 
when the tide comes in, it washes into its main opening, and the 
water seethes, so that one knows that the stones are hot. 3 

This report, made two and a half vears after the Santa Barbara Presidio 
was founded, gave two clues to the location of the “volcano”: it was on the 
beach, and it was halfway between Santa Barbara and Mescaltitlan. The 

various diaries of the Portolá Expedition of 1769. the first land expedition 
along the California coast, describe an island in what is now called the Goleta 
Slough. At that time the island was in an estero entirely surrounded by 
brackish water, and Portolá’s soldiers called it Mescaltitlan because of its 
similarity to another island of that ñame about 100 miles southeast of Mazat- 
lan, México. Today the island is just a low, barren hill at the eastern edge 
of the Santa Barbara airport at Goleta where the Goleta Sanitary District 
plant is located, but it still bears the ñame Mescaltitan on the U. S. Geo- 
logicai Survey quadrangle map of the Goleta area. 

Fages’ report of September 6, 1784, was acknowledged on March 2, 
1785, by José Antonio Rengel who had been appointed Ínterim Commanding 
General on August 21, 1784, after Neve died. 4 Rengel wrote from his head- 
quarters at Chihuahua, about 400 miles southeast of Tucson, Arizona. Mail 
in those days was routed from Monterey, California, to San Blas, México; 
thence via land routes to the northern provinces, which accounts for the 
six-month delay in acknowledging receipt of the letter. 

More details about the “volcano” were contained in a letter dated July 
3, 1785, again from Fages to the Commanding General. Bancroft’s docu- 
ment reads: 

It is said that walking a league and a half < about 4 miles) 
to the west from the Presidio of Santa Barbara, on the same beach, 
a bend or angie was found that alters the alignment of the cliff 
that faces the sea. It must be a thousand varas (about a half mile) 
in circumference, so that one knows that the same fire has brought 
down the cliff. Throughout this site, the ground is so hot that one 
cannot approach it; it burns continuously in more than thirty 
places, like geysers that exude dense smoke. From its stench it 
appears to be from sulfur, which in fact, it really is. It is believed 
that this is the material that most feeds the fire. A vein of that 
material, mixed with others of various colors, is observed. The vein 
goes under the top layer of good soil that produces the same ground 
cover as the other lands, and as it burns undemeath, the cliff 
tumbles in. The fragments and a kind of thick ash or cinder from 
what has already burned and which the surf heaps or piles up (on 
the beach) plugs the main opening so that one cannot tell where it 
is. Recently, the substances that they observe there are sulfur and 
asphaltum, a sort of tar; the rest of the mixture is of various colors 
and is unrecognized. Returning to the Presidio, a gunshot before 
arriving, they saw a patch of yellow soil of about twenty varas (in 
circumference) somewhat moist and without ground cover. Poking 
around a little, one can see that it is the same seam, with a worse 
odor, but it is not burning. 5 

— 9 — 

Some additional information has been gleaned by going to the source 
of the historical account. We know that the “volcano” was about four miles 
west of the site of the Santa Barbara Presidio, which is located at the ínter- 
section of Santa Barbara and Canon Perdido Streets. Michael J. Phillips had 
erroneously located the “volcano” somewhere east of Santa Barbara in the 
vicinity of Booth’s Point, or on the coast within the next mile below. 

In 1784 the route foUowed to reach the “volcano” probably would have 
been by way of what is now City College and along the Santa Barbara Mesa. 
By this route, four miles from the Presidio would be at a point about a half 
mile west of Arroyo Burro Beach State Park. In the 1790 s and early 1800 s 
the soldiers of the Santa Barbara Presidio and the padres of the Mission made 
many expeditions out from Santa Barbara to explore surrounding territory 
and to pursue their objectives of settling the country and Christianizing the 
Indians. On these trips they had no way of measuring accurately how fai 
they had traveled; distances were estimated from the number of hours of 
travel. If the terrain was smooth, they might average as much as four miles 
per hour ; if rough, as little as one mile. Thus the one and a half leagues 
from the Presidio could have been considerably in error. 

Eight years after the report submitted by Fages, a naturalist and surgeon 
named °José Longinos Martínez made an expedition from México up mto 
Alta California and wrote a journal of his travels. In it he tells of having 
seen a “fire volcano” on the coast between Santa Barbara and La Purísima 
Mission (at Lompoc). There is little doubt that it is the same as that reported 
by Fages. He writes: 

The singular thing about it is that when the sea is rough and 
it is covered by water and high tide. then are its eruptions of fire 
and ashes the greater—so much so that one can observe it only from 
a distance. Even after an eruption, the ground is so covered with 
ashes that one cannot approach it without being half-buried. I was 
able to observe the craters only because the wind biew (the smoke 
away) and the tide had receded. The craters were varnished with 
sticky pitch mixed with sulphur, alum and other substances. The 
ground all about the circumference was so hot that one could not 
remain standing half a minute without getting the soles of his feet 
burned. Small flames issued from the mouth from time to time, to- 
gether with smoke so sulphurous that I could not breathe and was 
forced to abandon the place before I wished. All that day and the 
day following I suffered from a violent cough that gave me some 
concern ... A spectator witnessing its violence would say that all 
the waters of the sea would not suffice to extinguish it; but Natur- 
alists, perceiving that the principal agent of these eruptions is water, 
and that without it the fire does not become active, know that its 

— 10 — 

activity depends upon the amount of sea water that washes into it. 

This is a natural effect and one that astonished the natives ver) 


On January 14, 1813, the Comandante of the Santa Barbara Presidio, 
José Dario Argüello, wrote to Governor José Joaquín de Arrillaga submitting 
a report on the destructive earthquake of December 12, 1812.- The Presidio 
vvas severely damaged (as were the missions of Santa Barbara. Santa Ines, 
La Purísima and others), and the tremors were still continuing. Unfortunately 
Bancroft’s scribe did not copy the description of damage in detail. On March 
19, 1813, Arguello wrote that “the volcano near the coast developed more 
openings, and another one is said to exist on the other side of the summit, 
Pine Mountain. It is concluded from this that the asphalt together with the 
sulphur has not ceased boiling in the center of this undermined soil.® 

When these devastating earthquakes occurred in 1812 and 1813, the 
only structures of any consequence in Santa Barbara that could be damaged 
were the Presidio and the Mission. The houses of the natives, hemispherical 
huts made of reeds and thatch, must have swayed with the earth during the 
tremors and remained relatively undamaged. Gradually, however, the plain 
began to be settled by retired soldiers and an influx of Yankee traders and 
others attracted to the community because of its climate or the opportunit) 
to amass a fortune from the trading of goods and the shipment of hides, 
tallow and otter skins. By 1826 the community was large enough to warrant 
an order by Governor Echeandia establishing the first ayuntamiento or town 
government. This order changed governmental control from military to civil, 
capable of handling the problems of a potentially urban area and setting the 
stage for incorporation of the city. On April 9, 1850, five months befoie 
California was admitted to the Union, the city was incorporated by act of the 
California legislature. 

One of the new city’s first acts was to have a survey made and city 
streets laid out to enable the citizens to travel about. At the same time the 
U. S. Government was preparing accurate maps of the coast, utilizing the facil- 
ities of the U. S. Coast Survey (later the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey) to 
enable ships to sail safely up and down the coast. In 1870 a detailed map of 
the coast was published® showing topography inland from the beach for a dis- 
tance of up to two miles between Santa Barbara and Goleta. A section of this 
map shows “Arroyo del Burro,” the creek that borders La Cumbre Shopping 
Center on the east. At its mouth is the small lagoon, now a part of Arroyo 
Burro Beach State Park. A little over a half mile west of the lagoon the map 
shows a landslip extending a distance of 1700 feet parallel to the shoreline 
and inland a distance of some 500 feet. At this point the top of the cliff has 
dropped about 100 feet. The depression is marked El Argulie. A thorough 
search of several good Spanish dictionaries failed to elicit the meaning of 

— 11 — 


this term. Fr. Maynard Geiger, O.F.M., archivist at Santa Barbara Mission 
and the highest authority in this area on translations of archaic Spanish 
documents, expressed doubt that it was a Spanish word because of its spelling. 
The answer to this puzzle was found in an account written by John P. Har- 
rington, the noted anthropologist who excavated the Indian village at Burton 
Mound adjacent to Cabrillo Boulevard and spent years developing the vocabu- 
lary of the Chumash Indians. The account describes a trip with his Chumash 
informant, Juan Justo, to the vicinity of Arroyo Burro and Hope Ranch. 
This trip was probably made in the early 1920’s. 

Harrington was a meticulous etymologist who painstakingly spelled out 
phonetically every Chumash word he heard. Of this trip he wrote: 

I asked informant at once about the place where the cliff was 
hot part way up. Informant stated with no hesitation that that place 
was ajuluivil une. informant gave it this way for two or three times 
but later gave it distinctly as juluwil une. Aside from the presence 
or absence of an initial a the word gave no trouble phonetically . . . 

We took the road from the mouth of the Arroyo Burro to the mouth 
of Hope Ranch arroyo—the new road which leads along the shore. 

Just before reaching the Hope Ranch gate, informant called mv 
attention to a llano [fíat area] which was like a step between the 
cliff and the beach and just opposite w r here we were. He stated that 
the llano [that whole llano] was juluwil une , and that the whole 
llano or locality burns and smoke rises. An oíd trail (for foot*goers 
and horseback riders) used to descend to this fíat from the upcoast- 
ward side, informant stated. The fíat appeared to be about half-way 
in elevation between the height of the beach and that of the top 
of the cliff where we were. I did not take time to get a good look 
at the fíat. We next paid the man at the gate fifty cents for per- 
mission to enter Hope Ranch. 10 

It seems quite probable that when the survey for the 1870 map was 
being made the surveyors were told the Indian ñame for the landslip above 
the “volcano.” Since a j in Spanish is pronounced like an exaggerated h , and 
a g is somewhat similar, surveyors probably thought the ñame for the land¬ 
slip was Spanish and spelled it out as best they could, coming up with 
El Argulie. 

An intensive study of the “volcano” phenomenon was made in 1886 by 
Professor Henry Chapman Ford. Ford is well known for his etchings of 
California missions, but his interests and talents were varied: in addition 
to being an artist, he was a naturalist and a vice-president of the Santa 
Barbara Society of Natural History, predecessor of the present Museum of 
Natural History. In October. 1890, he wrote an article entitled “Solfataras 
in the Vicinity of Santa Barbara,” published in Volume 1, No. 2 of the 

— 13 — 

transactions of the Society. Apparently for the first time, he identified 
the eruptions as “fire wells” or solfataras. Curiously, he does not describe 
the one near Arroyo Burro, but two others: one on the San Marcos Ranch 
in the Santa Ynez Valley (probably that noted after the earthquake of 1812) 
and one on the Ventura County side of Rincón Creek. He stated: 

It may be hardly proper to apply the ñame sol}atara to these 
gaseous issues, yet they have many characteristics of those outlets 
of internal action situated near active volcanoes. If not rightly Corn¬ 
ing under that head, they may belong to the class of gas-springs 
known as fire wells, so called from the emanations of carbureted 
hydrogen, occasionally taking fire at the issue. These phenomena 
can undoubtedly be traced to deep-seated chemical changes. Dr. 
Dauberry attributed them in Sicily to the slow combustión of beds 
of sulphur. Another authority States that the frequent occurrence 
of naptha and inflammable gas points to the engagement of hydro¬ 
gen carbons from subterranean strata. 

The recent discovery of natural gas by boring at Summerland, 
a few miles west of the Rincón issues, where it has no doubt been 
escaping from the surface for a long period, together with the “fire 
wells described, indicates that the hydrocarbons are abundantly 
generated in the strata underlving a considerable portion of Santa 
Barbara County, and that this valuable product may soon be ob- 
tained in sufficient quantities to be utilized for a host of purposes 
where a cheap fuel or lighting is required. 11 

Ford describes the San Marcos Ranch “fire well” as being 75 to 100 
feet in diameter and bare of vegetation. The atmosphere in the locality was 
permeated by a “strong and intensely disagreeable odor, characterized evi- 
dently by bitumen and sulfur.” Visible sulfurous fumes rose to a height of 
from two to three feet from eight or ten apertures in the ground, and the 
gases were too hot for the hand to bear. During the cooler days of winter, 
the fumes rose to much greater heights and were visible at a considerable 
distance. The ground was an outcrop of light-colored shales in a nearly 
vertical stratification, and disturbance of the shale with a pick uncovered 
areas very warm to the touch. At the apertures sublimed crystals of sulfur 
were noted. 

The warm ground at that season attracted the cattle, numbers of them 
seeking the neighborhood for their nigHly bed. At the time of Ford’s visit, 
the surface was strewn with grasshoppers that had died either from the heat 
or the deleterious gases. 

Ford’s account was shown to S. A. Nash-Boulden, manager of the San 
Fernando Rey Ranch, part of the original San Marcos Rancho. Mr. Nash- 
Boulden was supervisor of Los Padres National Forest from 1929 to 1946, 

— 14 — 

and his house is located on the edge of a high bluff overlooking a portioi 
of the Santa Ynez River. On reading the account, he said there was on 
location adj acent to the river on the San Marcos Rancho that fitted th 
description, and that was a few hundred yards down river from his hous 
and visible from his living room window. 

Ford also described a “fire well” “about three-fourths of a mile belo- 
a point where Rincón Creek enters the sea and near the carriage road an 
railway leading from Santa Barbara to Ventura.” He said that at this pon 
the normally light-colored shales have been altered by the action of minen 
gases and great heat, nearly all shades of red, yellow, brown and, in son 
cases, green being represented. He followed a path that took him to a pon 
about 300 feet above the base of the cliff, where he noted the same disagre 
able odor that existed around the Santa Ynez Valley issue. Descending aboi 
twenty or thirty feet, he found hot gases bursting from numerous apertur 
in the shales, accompanied in some cases by melted bitumen that hardened < 
cooling. Crystals of sulfur had formed on all nearby objects and the odo 
were extremely disagreeable. He wrote: 

During the cooler months, as at the Santa Ynez locality, the 
gases arising from the principal orífices are seen from distant 
points, and the issue of so much smoke and accompanying heat has 
given rise to a popular idea that it is due to volcanic action. The 
focal journals have from time to time given voice to this idea, and 
the frequency of earthquake shocks in the neighborhood has been 
attributed to the struggling efforts of the “Rincón Volcano.” 

When the excavations of the Southern Pacific railway were 
made at a point a mile farther west from the locality just described, 
a similar issue was discovered. and upon touching a match to the 
gas, combustión ensued and continued, notwithstanding vigorous 
efforts which were made to extinguish it. The fumes caused much 
annoyance to the laborers, and not until masses of earth w’ere 
dumped over the orifice did it cease to burn. 11 

In July, 1834, one José Maria García wrote a report on a trip tal 
from San Fernando Mission in the San Fernando Valley to La Purisi 
Mission at Lompoc in which he described the ranches, missions and set 
ments along the route. He wrote that upon leaving Ventura 

The road to the West goes along the beach and edge of the 
sea, without being able to proceed in any other way for a distance 
of some 5 leagues, because all this stretch consists of high and im- 
passable hills. On the crest or tip (of these hills) there is a sulfur 
volcano in which there has never been noted a violent or harmful 

— 15 — 

Charles Outland, noted historian and author of a fascinating book entitled 
Stagecoaching on El Camino Real described the problems of travelers on 
stagecoaches plying the road between Ventura and Santa Barbara. After 
describing some of the hazards of travel along the road west of Ventura, 
which at that time ran along the beach, he writes: 

Runaways through the surf were not the only sources of excite- 
ment on the Rincón during the heyday of Coast Line staging. A short 
distance below Rincón Point is a natural phenomenon known to 
Science as a solfatara , but more familiarly called a “volcano” by the 
hoi polloi. For a decade and a half during the 1870’s and 80’s the 
Rincón Volcano” was quite active at intervals. It became the not 
unwilling duty of the stagecoach drivers to investígate and submit 
impromptu reports upon the current status of the hot vent when 
arriving in San Buenaventura or Santa Barbara. The Ventura Free 
Press of July 2, 1881, reported that J. C. Cheney, a regular whip 
on the Santa Barbara run had brought cinders from the volcano 
into town and placed them on display in Cody’s Drug Store. Cheney 
related that the surrounding rocks were getting hotter each day and 
were already untouchable. Free Press Editor McLean went on to 
State that “if the heat keeps increasing, there will be a veritable 
volcano there shortly, and then the Santa Barbara papers will swear 
it was gotten up expressly as an attraction to summer tourists.” 

By October 27, 1883, the stage drivers could report that flames 
ten feet high were issuing from the volcano, and rocks were being 
hurled into the air. The situation was not quite so funny by then, 
but l£was probably sheer coincidence that McLean sold the Free 
Press at the same time. 

The disturbances on the Rincón soon subsided into an oc- 
casional flareup of smoke, a situation that would continué long after 
the demise of the stagecoach. It was possibly the sighting of the 
flames, however, that resulted in a Santa Barbara lawyer remarking 
to fellow passengers on the stage that he would rather live in hell 
than in Ventura. The Ventura newspapers agreed that hell was a 
much more suitable place for Santa Barbara lawyers than San 
Buenaventura. 13 

In the Pacific Coast Pilot for 1889 for California, Oregon and Wash¬ 
ington, published by the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, is the conlment: 

Fifteen miles westward of San Buenaventura there is reported 
to be a rich deposit of sulfur on the shore, surface specimens yield- 
ing 60%. Around the locality are found ashes and scoria; the 
ground is hot, and gas emitted is almost suffocating. 

— 16 — 

In early 1946 the writer oí this article left Santa Barbara early on a 
coid morning for a trip to Los Angeles. One mile below Rincón Creek, the 
boundary line between Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, smoke or steam 
was seen issuing from a point possibly 100 feet below the top oí the cliff. 
Today the point of issue can be identified by the pinkish-red color of the 
shale in contrast with the normal yellow-buff color of the rest of the cliff. 

In 1963 a subdivisión of property located on top of the cliff near the 
shore in the west end of Goleta Valley was delayed for months while a bull¬ 
dozer graded a pond large enough to hold water that eventually extinguished 
a burning “fire well.” How long it had burned or how it was ignited was 

Returning to the Arroyo Burro soljatara , the quest for information about 
its exact location was ended by Clif Smith, the genial librarian and botanist 
of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History who has an intimate knowl- 
edge of this county’s flora, fauna, and geography. Following his directions, 
the site of the solfatara was found by driving to Arroyo Burro Beach State 
Park and walking west along the beach toward Hope Ranch about a half 
mile to a place where the shale in the face of the cliff has a pinkish-red color. 
Here, for a distance of about a quarter mile, the top of the bluff has sunk 
about a hundred feet below the level of the surrounding land. At the bottom 
of the cliff, adj acent to the sandy beach, the soil has an ashy quality and 
readily crumbles to a fine dust. Some thirty or forty feet above the beach is 
an area that has not been burned red and which contains a shale stone that 
appears to be impregnated with oil. This is El Argulie. But there is no heat 
or fire. 

Oren Sexton, manager of the La Cumbre Mutual Water Company that 
serves Hope Ranch, provided the reason why the “volcano is extinct. He 
explained that by 1920 the fire then burning within the boundaries of Hope 
Ranch had became a nuisance to surrounding property owners because of 
odor, smoke, inquisitive visitors and the threat of grass fire. In the early 
1920’s the owners of Hope Ranch had a pipeline constructed to the site, 
graded a levee to impound the water, and created a pond which, after 
several weeks, allowed the water to percolate far enough into the ground to 
drown the flames. Thus was extinguished one of Santa Barbara s oldest 
and most curious phenomena, a fire that had burned for centuries. 

Edward Selden Spaulding, who encouraged the writer to undertake the 
research for this article, recalls reading the log of some ship plying the 
Coastal waters of California. The log indicated that on the southbound trip, 
the plume of smoke and steam from the “fire well served as a landmark 
indicating the ship’s approach to the Santa Barbara roadstead. 

The writer wishes to acknowledge with sincere thanks the help and 
cooperation of those who made this article possible: the assistance of Fr. 

— 17 — 

Maynard Geiger, O.F.M., archivist at Santa Barbara Mission, Edward Selden 
Spaulding, author of severa! books on local history, Clif Smith, librarían and 
botanist at the Museum of Natural History, and Ike Bonilla, local historian, 
is gratefully acknowledged. Thanks are also due to Mrs. Ruth Adams, Mrs. 
Roben C. Smitheram, and Mr. Henrv Schewel for their translations of Ban- 
croft Library documents from archaic Spanish to English. The author also 
appreciates the cooperation of the Arthur H. Clarke Company for permission 
to quote from Stagecoaching on El Camino Real by Charles Outland. And last, 
but not least, the writer wishes to thank Mrs. Muriel Fuller for cheerfully 
onating her time to editing and typing the manuscript of this article. 


1 ' í.n? e Anül« ae Tl. Ph c IÍ T 6 ’ J! ÍS !° r K.° f Sa " la Barbara County. Chicago, San Francisco, 
2 o’' S -J- £! arke Fublishing Company, 1927. Yol. I, pp. 34, 37. 

¡n 7 vnl ° We c ancro [*’ ,síor y °f California: Facsímile from First American Edition 
m 7 volumes Santa Barhara: W aliare Hehherd. 1963, Yol I, p. 465. 

Provincial RecoHs^Vol! 1 1, p! S!*"”*"' BanCr ° f ' Californ¡a Archives 22 ’ 

4 StahHPapere) Sacramento, L¡brary ’ CalÍfornÍa Archives “■ 

5 'Efnckl Records n , Í yS: , íl,° f p. ( S f;rnÍa ' *•“"”* CalÍf ° rnÍa ArchÍVeS 22 ’ 

° n ^í ,n0b i A ! a ?T eZ V California in 1792 — The Expedition of José Longinos 
d by ,o eS ln y ® yrd Sim P son - San Marino, CA: Huntington Library 
ij i. R \ . ’ PP* Quotation from 2nd edition; San Francisco: John 

Howell Books, 1%1, pp . 49-50. 

7 PrnvwJ^M ^ niversit y <jf California. Bancroft Library. California Archives 12, 

Provincial State Pa P ers, Vol. XIX. P . 360. 

8 .lbid. y p . 338. 

9 *V* C ° ast . Benjamín Peirce, Su P erintendent. Section X. Map of a Part of 

c r I Santa Barbara Channel from Santa Barbara to Pelican Point. 

10 \ . 1:23 ’ 000 - 187 °* Regwler No. 1230. 

NcT S 6017 tO Box^27"^ ^ n ^^ l80n * an Institution. National Anthro P ological Archives. Ms. 

11 'n n C r I ¡ ry C c aP “ an F t 0T J' Sol t atara * in the Vicinity of Santa Barbara . Bul/etin , Santa 
12 ¿ ÍT ® f .Natural History. \ol. I, No. 2, October, 1890. 

*p e ey ’, c ' n lver8Í, í California. Bancroft Library. California Archives 3, 

Provincial State Pa P ers, Vol. 111. PP . 147-180. 

^ m/ii * ^i U ^ a . n ^’ Stagecoachmg on El Camino Real y Los Angeles to San Francisco , 
1861.1901. Glendale, CA: The Arthur H. Clarke Company, 1973. 


Staffers are needed to assist the ladies at Fernald House and the Trussell- 
Winchester Adobe on Sunda} afternoons from two to four o’clock. For 
further information about this important and interesting work, please cali 
Mrs. Gene Harris, Chairman of the Woman’s Projects House Committee, 
at 962-4738. 



In memory of W. Edwin Gledhill, director emeritus of the Society and 
founder of the Gledhill Library, who died in February of this year, the 
following resolution was read before the Board of Directors of the Society 
at its meeting of February 26, 1976. 

WHEREAS, this Board has received with a deep feeling of sadness the 
news of the death of W. Edwin Gledhill, Director Emeritus; and 

WHEREAS, during his term as Director of the Santa Barbara Historical 
Society, he was a leader in the field of historie preservaron and through his 
foresight, dedication, and artistic ability brought recognition to the Society 
as an outstanding and scholarly institution; and 

WHEREAS, many of the important books and manuscripts in our 
Library were acquired through Mr. Gledhill’s efforts, it is therefore most 
appropriate that his ñame should be perpetuated through the Gledhill Library 
here at the Santa Barbara Historical Society; and 

WHEREAS, Mr. Gledhill will be remembered for many things not the 
least of which is the writing of Santa Barbara’s El Pueblo Viejo Ordinance, 
which paved the way for legal protection for adobes and other historie 
buildings; and 

WHEREAS, Mr. Gledhill was a leader in many diversified civic and 
cultural activities which have greatly benefited the City and County of Santa 
Barbara and the State of California; and 

WHEREAS, the passing of Mr. Gledhill has saddened the members of 
this Board, 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Directors 
of the Santa Barbara Historical Society express its deep sorrow and sense 
of loss upon the passing of its Director Emeritus; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that it share with W. Edwin Gledhill’s 
family their sorrow; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this Resolution be spread upon the 
minutes of this meeting of the Board of Directors, Thursday, February 26, 
1976, and that a copy of this Resolution be sent to Mr. Gledhill’s family; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that when this Board adjourns, it 
adjourn in loving memory of W. Edwin Gledhill. 




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voi. xix, no. 4 Stíi-t' 



WABuon OA51 AT LOCAl ilÁPftRT fe o 

the paper was doomed. It managed to limp along without ads until ¡ts 
Christmas issue of 1858, at which time V. Torras and P. Fossas bought the 
plant and shipped the equipment to San Francisco. 

The one faded spot in the otherwise bright tapesfry of Santa Barbara's 
recorded history is the period between 1858, when the Gazette expired, 
and May 30, 1 868, when E. B. Boust of Placerville issued the first edition 
of the Santa Barbara PosM During that ten-year hiatus the town was with- 
out a newspaper and much fugitive history was lost. 

Boust was a radical Secessionist. Like his predecessors on the Gazette, 
he bruised the feelings of Spanish-speaking Barbarenos with his editorial 
¡ibes that Californians were discouraging American immigration and im- 
peding development in Santa Barbara County. After one abrasive year, 
Boust sold the Post to the Rev. Joseph A. Johnson. 4 

Johnson was a fire-and-brimstone Protestant minister who, in 1866, 
had had the temerity to introduce Congregationalist heresy to an over- 
whelmingly Papist community. Now, backed by the financial subsidy of 
Santa Barbara's wealthiest Citizen, Col. W. W. Hollister, the Rev. Johnson 
forsook the pulpit in favor of the editorial desk. 

He dropped the controversial “Post" from the masthead, renaming 
the paper the Santa Barbara Press. The first issue under Johnson's editorship 
appeared on June 14, 1869. 


Editor Johnson was not long in establishing himself as the stormy 
petrel of Santa Barbara ¡ournalism. When he criticized the district attorney, 
W. T. Wilson, for consorting with unsavory characters, Wilson called John¬ 
son “a dirty presumptuous dog and a slanderer" and, meeting Johnson 
on State Street, knocked him down and lashed him unmercifully with a 
whip. "Served Johnson right” was the concensus of the citizenry. 

Editor Johnson engaged in numerous brouhahas in Santa Barbara. 
A favorite target of his ¡ournalistic ¡avelins was E. B. Boust, his predecessor, 
who was finally goaded beyond endurance and returned to the newspaper 
field with a rebuttal sheet, the Times, on February 1, 1870. 

Since Johnson was being financed by Col. Hollister, Boust accused 
the former clergyman of being in sycophancy to the wishes of the rich and 
turning an unfriendly eye upon the laboring classes, “a lick-spittle of the 
lowest type" who ran a newspaper, in Boust’s words, "owned by a clan 
of land-grabbers.” 5 This was a veiled reference to the Mores, Dibblees 
and Hollisters who had been buying up vast acreages of cheap land in 
the Lompoc, Goleta and Santa Clara River valleys. 

Early in the morning of August 25, 1871, an unidentified arsonist set 
fire to Johnson’s shop. Editor Boust snidely suggested that perhaps John¬ 
son had set the fire himself in order to collect insurance." 

Shortly thereafter Boust sold the Santa Barbara Times to a young 
attorney, Jarrett T. Richards, who had bought out Judge Charles Fernald’s 

— 2 — 

practice. (His law f¡rm ¡s still ¡n business ¡n 1973 under the ñame of Pnce, 
Postel and Parma.) 7 

At that time Col. Hollister’s pet crusade was obtaining a federal sub- 
sidy for an Atlantic & Pacific Railroad with a terminus in Santa Barbara, a 
project which was vigorously supported by the Press. When editor Richards 
carne out against the railroad, Johnson dismissed his competitor as an “im- 
pudent young knave”. 

Starting as a semi-weekly in 1871, by July 1873 the Times had be- 
come a full-fledged daily, although the Press on July 24, 1873, referred 
to ¡t contemptuously as a “rag”. 


An early-day editor A Santa Barbara jailure 

The Press, the Republican voice of Santa Barbara, was first issued as 
a weekly, but on September 9, 1872, ¡t celebrated California’s 22nd Ad- 
mission Day by becoming a daily. Johnson charged $16 a column for stand- 
ing ads, and boasted 3,000 circulation, although many of the subscribers 
paid with firewood to fuel the boiler of the steam engine which powered 
the flatbed press. 

By September 27, 1872, the Press was able to buy a new drum cyl- 
inder press, and on October 25, 1872, Johnson leased the wire Services 
of the new Overland Telegraph, which for the first time gave Santa Bar- 
barans New York news the same day ¡t happened, and European dispatches 
only a day late. At this time the format was enlarged from three to six 

Continuing to prosper, on April 3, 1873, the Press moved into a new 
brick building at 26 West Ortega Street near State. The opening was mark- 

— 3 — 

ed by a fund-raising banquet sponsored by John P. Stearns, the wharfinger, 
at which a purse of $1,925 in gold was presented to editor Johnson in 
appreciation of his contributions to Santa Barbara life." 

Contemporaneously a member of the faculty of Santa Barbara College 
at State and Anapamu streets. Charles A. Storke, had resigned to establish 
the Herald in Los Angeles, using money supplied by his wealthy father- 
in-law, T. Wallace More, one of the aforementioned Yankee "land-grab- 
bers”. Unfortunately for Storke, the Panic of 1873 forced him to sell out 
inside of a year. He returned to Santa Barbara to study land law and open- 
ed a practice in 1895, although later he was also to make his mark as a 
controversia! editorial writer in Santa Barbara.» 

The Panic of 1 873 also ruined Jarrett T. Richards. The Times wound 
up being assimilated by the Press. Editor Johnson, with unconcealed glee, 
informed Santa Barbara that the demise of the Times was a blessing, add- 
ing that "Richards is an ass, as stupid as he is brazen, with no more regard 
for his own word than the people of Santa Barbara now have." Never- 
theless, Richards went on to a distinguished legal career. 


The first half of the Seventies saw several newspapers take root, 
blossom and die in Santa Barbara. One, the Tribune, was published for 
two years by a precocious twelve-year-old, Earle A. Walcott, as a vehicle 
for his mother's florid poetry. (The only known copy of the Santa Barbara 
Tribune is in the collections of the California Historical Society in San Fran- 
cisco. ) ltt 

The Santa Barbara Index was an attractive and well-edited paper 
founded on August 31, 1872 by E. N. Wood and A. W. Sefton Its two 
mside pages were filled with boilerplate advertising from San Francisco 
firms. The Index's avowed raison d’etre was to espouse the cause of the 
Democratic Party, to counteract Johnson's blatant Republicanism. Thus, the 
Index in the 1872 presidential election supported Greeley, while the Press 
backed the victorious Grant. 

After several changes of ownership, the Index was acquired by Mr 
and Mrs. William Russell on January 22, 1874. At that time the spiritualism 
fad was sweeping the country, with Mrs. Russell its Santa Barbara priestess 
As a consequence, the Index was in a position to supply exclusive news 
coverage of the spooky goings-on at local seances, making it more read- 
able than the staid Press. 11 

A combinaron of the economically disastrous Drought of 1877 and 
Russell's untimely death that same year forced the Index to fold. 

On May 1, 1875, Al Pettygrove started the Santa Barbara Daily News 
(the first of two papers bearing that ñame) and within sixfy days was 
boastmg that he had passed the Press in advertising lineage and circula¬ 
ron. 1 -' However, slightly more than a year later, on May 16, 1876, the 

— 4 — 

Press took over the News like a shark swallowing a tuna. Pettygrove made 
another try with the Daily Advertiser, but it managed to publish only from 
February to November, 1877. 

The Santa Barbara Daily Morning Republican flashed like a comet 
across the ¡ournalistic horizon of Santa Barbara ¡n 1875, under the editor- 
ship of A. S. Winchester, lasting only from May to August. 13 

1875 saw Johnson’s erstwhile competitor, Jarrett T. Richards, become 
mayor of Santa Barbara. When Richards supported the candidacy of one 
Clarence Gray for district attorney, Johnson denounced the mayor in such 
vitriolic terms that a group of concerned citizens, including Johnson’s own 
sponsor. Col. Hollister, signed a petition requesting him to make a public 
retraction of his charges. 

The chastened Johnson confessed he had overstepped, but refused 
to sign an apology which Richards had composed. This resulted in a fist 
fight which the city marshal broke up. A blow-by-blow account of the bout 
was gleefully reported by the Daily News. 14 

This contretemps prompted the San Francisco Alta to editorialize “Santa 
Barbara would be very dull without Johnson, editor of the Press. He keeps 
a show of life there by his frisky editorials.” The Los Angeles Star praised 
Johnson as “one of the most indomitable, energetic and successful editors 
on the Pacific Coast. No man has done so much as he to make Santa Bar¬ 
bara the delightful and refined city it is.” 13 

Johnson’s grand dream was to produce a monthly pictorial maga- 
zine for national distribution, to extol Santa Barbara’s civic virtues to all 
America. He succeeded in bringing out a prototype issue dated September 
10, 1 875, as a supplement to the Press, but it consisted of only eight pages 
and sixteen steel engravings. 

The abortive magazine venture was prohibitively expensive, and in 
the end proved to be Johnson’s swan song. He quarreled with Hollister 
over budget matters, Hollister withdrew his financial support, and Johnson 
perforce had to leave Santa Barbara in search of employment. 


Hollister replaced the controversial ex-preacher with a fire-eating 
¡ournalist and Civil War hero, Harrison Gray Otis. Destined to become one 
of the West Coast’s greatest newspapermen, Otis assumed the editorship 
of the Press on March 1 1, 1876. However, he fell into the same trap as 
previous editors in Santa Barbara — he began blaming the lazy ways of 
the natives for the town’s economic stagnation. 10 

Shortly after Otis’ arrival, two editors out of the past, E. B. Boust of the 
defunct Post and W. B. Keep of Gazette memory, founded the Santa Bar¬ 
bara Democrat. It was soon acquired by Fred A. Moore, who changed the 
ñame to the Santa Barbara Independent. 

— 5 — 


A victim of murder A “peaceful” editor 

Runnlng warfare developed between Otis and the Independen». After 
four treadmilling years, Otis tired of small town life and quit ¡n February, 
1880. (Two years later he ¡nvested ¡n the embryonic Los Angeles Times, 
which he developed ¡nto the southland’s premier daily. Otis was the lead- 
ing Citizen of Los Angeles when he died ¡n 1917.) 

Otis’ successor as editor of the Press, R. D. Bogart, kept the paper 
afloat through the summer of 1880, before being forced to suspend pub- 
lication, both of the daily and the auxiliary Weekly Press. 

Col. Hollister had too many other irons in the f¡re to worry about his 
moribund newspaper holdings, so he sold the Press to John P. Stearns, 
builder of Stearns Wharf, in the fall of 1880. 17 

Stearns brought in an Illinois editor, Theodore M. Glancey, to run the 
Press. Glancey had served as editor of C. A. Storke’s Los Angeles Herald 
seven years before. 

One of Glancey's first editorials concerned the perennial candidacy 
of Clarence Gray for county district attorney. Glancey’s investigative re- 
porting uncovered several cases where Gray had threatened people with 
loaded guns, or beaten them, ¡ncluding a defenseless Catholic priest whom 
Gray had clubbed ¡nto insensibility over some fancíed slight. 

Glancey ¡nformed Press readers that Gray’s nomination was a disgrace 
and that public officials should not be chosen from among paranoiac hood- 
lums and common lawbreakers. 

— 6 — 

Gray reacted with apoplectic rage. He sought out publisher Stearns 
¡n the office of Judge D. P. Hatch and demanded to know if Stearns ap- 
proved of Glancey’s slanderous editorial. Stearns declared emphatically 
that he did, and Gray slunk out. Next day, however, he encountered 
Glancey at State and Haley Streets and promptly drew his pistol. 

The unarmed editor grappled with his assailant but could not seize 
the latter’s weapon. Attempting to retreat inside the nearby Occidental 
Hotel, Glancey reached the doorway when Gray shot him ¡n the back. 
Mortally wounded, Glancey staggered up the plank sidewalk as far as 
the Morris House at State and Cota. Doctors called to aid the fallen editor 
heard him whisper that he was “dying for a principie and would not 
change the editorial” if he could. Glancey expired shortly afterward. 

After three murder triáis, Gray was acquitted ¡n December 1882 in 
San Mateo, in what was widely deplored as a miscarriage of justice. 18 

Stearns, lacking an editor, sold the Morning Press before the end of 
1880 to C. F. McGlashan, noted as the author of a book on the ill-fated 
Donner Party, and inventor of a railway telegraph system. 

McGlashan’s biographer, Jesse Diamond Masón, in 1883 noted that 
McGlashan restored an atmosphere of calm and dignity to Santa Barbara 
¡ournalism, which had become saturated with violence and bitterness. 

“The readers of the papers had become used to it," Masón wrote. 
“They were not alarmed or frightened in the least by the terrible fusillade 
of paper bullets. It was even thought that they rather enjoyed it . . . Mr. 
McGlashan demonstrated the contrary. He has abused no one. Uniform 
courtesy has marked his editorials . . . Mr. McGlashan ¡udged rightly that 
a clean, respectable sheet would be supported.” 10 

Another ¡ournalist who also subscribed to the doctrine of peaceful 
co-existence was George P. Tebbetts, a ’49er from Massachusetts who had 
struck it rich on the Mother Lode and moved to San Diego. He appeared in 
Santa Barbara in 1883 to purchase the Independen! following the death 
of its editor and publisher, Fred A. Moore. 20 

Tebbetts converted the Independent from a weekly into a daily on 
May 1, 1883, to usher in what in retrospect was the golden age of ¡ourna¬ 
lism in Santa Barbara, insofar as numbers of papers was concerned. 


As of 1888, for example, Santa Barbara had a choice of two dailies 
and four weeklies: the Daily Independen!, managed by Tebbetts with M.C.F. 
Hall-Wood as editor; the Daily Press, by then under the control of Walter 
H. Nixon; the Weekly Press, a digest of the daily; the Weekly Independen!, 
also a Tebbetts enterprise; the Weekly Herald, a well-edited sheet by Félix 
Lañe and S. W. Candy; and the Weekly Bugle, dedicated to furthering the 
¡nterests of the Prohibition Party. 

— 7 — 

Tebbetts lost the lndependent for a paltry $2,500 debt during the 
Panic of 1893, but soon established another paper which revived the oíd 
ñame of Daily News, hiring Frank Sands to run it for him. Tebbetts died 
¡n 1907 at the San Francisco home of his son Nathan. 

The mortgage holder who foreclosed Tebbetfs lndependent, a man 
named LaViece, hired historian C. M. Gidney as his editor. LaViece died 
in 1900 and the Independen» was put on the market. 


At this ¡uncture in history, C. A. Storke’s dynamic son, Thomas More 
Storke, aged 24, burst upon the Santa Barbara journalistic scene, two years 
out of Stanford University. He was to domínate local newspaperdom for 
the next sixty-four years. 21 

Borrowing an unsecured $2,000 from H. J. Finger, a local druggist, 
young Storke (hereinafter referred to as TMS) bought the plant, sub- 
scription list and good will of the run-down Independen» from LaViece’s 
widow, and began publication of his own paper on January 1, 1901. 

TMS got for his $2,000 a false-fronted building (still standing at 26 
East Ortega Street); a press “held together with bailing wire;” less than 
200 paid subscribers; and little else. 22 At that time the most powerful news- 
paper in Santa Barbara, the Morning Press, was owned by Judge Robert 

— 8 — 

Owned the lndependent 

Daily News editor 

B Canfield, who predicted TMS would soon go broke. 

Writing was not TMS’s long suit but he was a hustlmg moneymaker 
who made friends easüy with people in high places. To ed.t the 
dent TMS went into partnership with a talented writer, 
who with C. C. Davis had briefly published an excellent sl,ck ' paper ^ 
.oriol magazine, El Barbareno, from an office a. Velona and Mora Villa 
Streets, now housing a travel agency. The los. money and folded 
before its first anniversary. 

Petterson soon became discouraged wi.h the Independen, and re- 
signed TMS had to assume the total mortgage and carry on alone. Thanks 
to the loyal patronage of such advertisers as Roeder & Ott s Hardware, 
Diehl’s Grocery, Trenwith's Clo.hing Store and Frink’s Drygoods, the strug- 
gling Independen, managed to keep afloat, meet its modest payroll and 
keep stocked wi.h newsprint and printer’s ink. Withm h,s first year, TMS 
doubled his circula.ion to 400 subscribers, ¡oined the Assoc.ated Press, and 
upped his advertising rotes. 

George S. Edwards, president of the oíd Bank, had faith 
in TMS’s potential to succeed and once had him on the books for over 
$100,000 to buy a Linotype machine, rotary press and ot er essen la s. 

At century’s turn Santa Barbara’s economy was booming, aidedI by 
the opening in 1902 of the 600-room Potter Hotel on West Beach TMS 
shared in the city’s prosperity. When banker Edwards moved nextdoorto 
a new location a. State and Canon Perdido Streets, the Independen, took 
over the vacated premises at 826 State Street, rema.nmg there until 1924. 


TMS saw his $2,000 investment appreciate in valué annually for ten 
years Then a Michigan publisher, Frederick W. Sherman offered TMS 
$38 500 for the Independent, with a down payment of $18,500 cash and 
the balance to be paid in four ins.allments of $5,000 each on the first 
day of February and August in 1911 and 1912.*» 

The offer was too good to refuse. TMS consummated the deal on May 
14 1910 and promised in writing “not to engage in newspaper or ,ob 

printing business in Santa Barbara, either in person or any other per- 
sons or corporations, for a period of ten years. -• 

TMS at loose ends, dabbled in the oil business in Kern County for 
two years. Upon returning to Santa Barbara, he found the new editor was 
making a ”miserable failure" of the Daily Independen». 

“ (Sherman’s) payments were not forthcoming,” TMS wrote .r. h.s hfe 
story 46 years later. “I tried to buy back h.s equ.ty m a fr ' endl ? s ^J em ' 
but he refused. A lawsui» followed, which I los» on a »* 

TMS invoked autobiographical license when he m.n.mized the pro- 
found impact of the lawsuit on his future career. 

The “technicality” was simply that Sherman sa.d he d.scovered tha 

-9 — 

When the Commercial Bank moved out of 826 State Street early in the century, Tom 
Storke’s Independent moved in. The bank’s tellcr s eages were retained for use by the 
editorial and business departments of the newspaper. 

TMS had misrepresented his assets and liabílities by as much as sixty 
per cent at the time of the sale, although the true figures allegedly were 
known to TMS at that time. 20 

So Sherman took TMS to court, charging “false and fraudulent" ¡ug- 
gling of the books. TMS, pleading ¡nadvertant clerical errors, countersued 
on the grounds that Sherman’s mismanagement was ruining a valuable 
newspaper property. 

Judge G. E. Church weighed the conflicting charges and, on January 
7 , 1913, ruled in favor of Sherman. 27 

Despite his written agreement not to go back into business in compe- 
tition with Sherman for a mínimum of ten years, less than two months after 
losing the lawsuit TMS purchased the nearly-defunct Daily News from an 
ailing Frank Sands. He paid $1,500 — less than the Independent had cost 
him in 1900. Within thirty days TMS had recovered most of his oíd adver- 
tising accounts from the Independent, and Sherman was washed up in 
Santa Barbara. 

— 10 — 

“I felt morally ¡ustified ¡n purchasing the oíd Daily News,” TMS de¬ 
fended himself ¡n hís 1958 memoirs. “I did so ¡n my father’s ñame . . . 
Technically, I was my father’s editor and publisher.” 2 * 

Instead of sueing TMS for breach of contract, Sherman gave up. He 
¡ettisoned what was left of the run-down Independent to TMS for a token 
$2,500. TMS merged the two sheets as the Daily News and Independen!, 
a masthead that was to endure for the next twenty years. 

TMS’s father (hereinafter called CAS) began writing acerbic editor¬ 
ial for the paper, signing himself “The Oíd Man”. Thus began a verbal 
sparring match with the rival Morning Press which deteriorated into the 
most caustic feud in the city’s history, each paper being diametrically op- 
posed to the other’s policies and viewpoints. 


Entering the 1920s the vendetta worsened. The editorial policies of 
the Morning Press theoretically reflected the views of publisher Reginald 
G. Fernald, the youngest son of Judge Charles Fernald, leader of Santa 
Barbara’s élite society from the 1850s into the 1880s. But “Reggie” was 
a bachelor playboy, a bon vivant with an alcohol problem. As a result he 
tended to neglect his professional responsibilities, delegating them to sub- 
ordinates. This was to lead him to disaster. 

Stung by the Oíd Man’s sarcastic diatribes against the Press, Fernald’s 
editors began dishing out their own brand of invective. For openers, they 
labeled CAS an “editorial polecat”. This daily ¡ousting titillated staid 
Santa Barbara and undoubtedly stimulated Street sales of both papers, but 
the vituperaron was to skid to shamefully low levels on both sides. 

The Press declared that CAS was the community’s worst enemy, while 
exempting TMS from this condemnation. They charged that the Press had 
been “falsely and maliciously abased, slandered and villified and held up 
to public scorn, ridicule and obloquy” by the Oíd Man. CAS countered by 
declaring that the Press was treating him with “actual hatred, malice and 
ill-will.” 2 » 


The calumnious exchange was climaxed by a scurrilous editorial, 
tacitly approved by Fernald but actually written by sub-editor E. P. Erwin, 
which appeared in the October 28, 1922 issue of the Press under the head- 
ing “SKUNK HUNT”. It charged that the Oíd Man “fought practically every 
proposal for the benefit of the city and belched forth into the faces of the 
people ... a fetid breath of political and moral corruption.” It further 
declared that CAS was an “incubus” (evil spirit) harrassing and riding 
the backs of Santa Barbara’s public officials; a “hoary-headed oíd grouch 
who was envious of all that ¡s clean and decent.” 

Then the over-zealous Erwin added a fatal paragraph: he wrote that 
CAS’s true character had been spelled out in the transcript of a scandalous 

— 11 — 

livorce case filed ¡n August, 1891, by Yda, the second of CAS’s three wives. 
’ress readers were invited to read for themselves the transcript of that 
emi-pornographic trial, available to the public ¡n the county clark s rec- 
irds at the courthouse. 30 

The Oíd Man reacted furiously to this low blow, decrying the irrele- 
'ant airing of dirty Unen which had lain for 21 years ¡n the hamper. Next 
norning the Press ¡ibed "It has been stated before, when one disturbs a 
kunk, the skunk defends itself ¡n the only way ¡t knows how. The Morning 
’ress has disturbed the Storkes and their News, and they defend themselves 
n the only way they know how.” 

C. A. Storke promptly filed a libel suit in Superior Court against the 
Morning Press, Fernald, and his editors, demanding $150,000 for damage 
to his good ñame, and $25,000 in punitive damages. 31 

Judge J. A. Bardin of the Monterey County Superior Court was as- 
signed to preside over the sensational case of Storke vs. Fernald. The pros- 
ecution's case hinged on the admissibility of the Press raking up a 21-year- 
old divorce action in which the plaintiff, Yda Addis Storke, had accused CAS 
of sex perversión and other unsavory felonies. (She was later found to be 

Neglected the Press 

— 12 — 

Won his libel suit 

insane and died ¡n an asylum.) 

Through some ¡ncredible oversight, editor Erwin # who had moved to 
Honolulú before the trial opened in 1924, had neglected to mention that 
Storke had been proven ¡nnocent of all his wife’s scandalous charges! 

The verdict was inevitable: Judge Bardin ruled in favor of plaintiff 
C. A. Storke. Fernald was ordered to pay damages in the amount of $6,000, 
which he did on May 9, 1924. 32 

“Losing that libel suit marked the beginning of the end for Fernald 
and the Press,” TMS told the writer during a 1957 interview. “Advertisers 
transferred accounts to the Daily News. And in retrospect, it is obvious that 
the ¡udgement levied by the court left the Morníng Press in too weak a 
fiscal condition to weather the depression which was just around the cór¬ 

As Fernald’s fortunes declined, TMS and his shrewd young business 
manager, Bert D. Lañe, were making spectacular gains on the Daily News. 
In 1924 they moved from cramped quarters at 826 State Street to a hand- 
some new Hispanic-style building on De la Guerra Plaza. 

Less than a year later the catastrophic earthquake of June 29, 1925 
hit Santa Barbara, causing $15,000,000 in property damage and taking 
a toll of 13 lives. Happily the reinforced concrete Daily News building 
survived with only minuscule damage. However, in the hours immediately 
following the temblor, TMS closed his plant pending ¡nspection by safety 

A small hand press was hauled out onto the plaza lawn, and 
a single-sheet “Earthquake Extra” was run off as a public Service. 


The great Depression dealt the newspaper business in Santa Barbara, 
as elsewhere, a crippling blow. Advertising revenue dried up. By the sum- 
mer of 1932, it became obvious that Reginald Fernald and his newspaper 
were near bankruptcy. 

TMS purchased the Morníng Press plant at 813 Vi State Street on Sep- 
tember 30, 1932, for a reported $100,000. 33 He announced that each 
newspaper would continué to be published autonomously. At the time, 
Fernald’s Press had an ABC circulation of 7,500, compared to the News’ 
8,500. The combined Sunday circulation was certified to be around 16,000. 

Fernald, despite his antipathy for the Oíd Man, had been a lifelong 
friend of TMS', and became the latter’s co-publisher. Paul Cowles, a 
staunch Republican and former Associated Press man, was called in to 
assume the editorship of the GOP-oriented Morníng Press. 

Thus a bland truce descended upon Santa Barbara newspaperdom 
for the first time since the McGlashan and Tebbetts era. The principal 
feudists died, C. A. Storke in 1936 at the age of 89, Reggie Fernald in 
1946 at the age of 65. (Fernald’s stately home at 422 Santa Barbara 

— 13 — 

Back shop at the Daily News in íhe 1890s when Frank Sands (second jrom lejt) was 
editor and publisher. This was in the era when type had to be set by hand and pages 
were made up on “composing stones ” (foreground). 

Tom Storkes Daily News building at the south end oj De la Guerra Plaza as it ap- 
peared in the spring of 1924 shortly ajter its completion. It is still in use. 

— 14 — 

Street was acquired by the Santa Barbara Historical Society and moved 
to Castillo and West Montecito Streets, where it serves as a Victorian mu- 
seum today.) 

The News and the Press carried on as ¡ndependent entities, with the 
combined Sunday edition being known as the Santa Barbara News-Press 
starting April 21, 1937. Eventually it proved economically unfeasible to 
publish separóte newspapers, and the News-Press Publishing Company 
was incorporated following a permanent merger in 1938. 34 The company 
has enjoyed a city monopoly ever since. 

TMS and his News-Press were intimately identified with all major 
county events during the 1940s and 1950s, including acquisition of the 
airport, the Cachuma reclamation project, the formation of UCSB and all 
phases of county and city government. In fact, some critics accused TMS 
of being too ¡nvolved in local politics, hinting that certain mayors and 
county supervisors were wont to get their “instructions” from the publisher 
of the News-Press before they went to work mornings at City Hall or the 
County Courthouse. 

These allegations were no doubt exaggerated, but no one disputed 
that T. M. Storke was Santa Barbara’s single most ¡nfluencial prívate Citi¬ 
zen. Time Magazine referred to him as a “benevolent dictator.” 


In California Editor, TMS said “the Storke family, by long tradition, 
has been a patriarchal family”, with his eider son Charles A. Storke II as 
the heir apparent. 

Charles graduated from Cornell University in 1932 and at age 21 
began working his way up the ladder in the News-Press organizaron, obvi- 
ously being groomed to some day step into his father’s shoes.» 5 Through 
the years, TMS always referred to Charles as his successor to carry on the 
dynasty. But by 1952, when major enlargements were made at the plant, 
including a carillón tower and pedestrian malí, Charles found himself no 
doser to the throne than the figurehead title of co-editor and publisher 
and manager of KTMS, the family radio station dating from 1939. Of real 
policy-making authority, he had little if any. 

TMS turned 83 in 1959 and was still showing no inclinaron to dele¬ 
góte any control to his son. So Charles, approaching 50, made a now-or- 
never decisión.- he left the family newspaper hierarchy to go into business 
for himself with an advertising agency in México City. In this he was en- 
thusiastically supported by his then wife, the former Barbara Bullard, and 
their family. 

Charles’ abdication stung the oíd autocrat’s pride, but TMS rolled 
with the punch and carne back fighting. In 1961 he launched what proved 
to be his last and greatest crusade — an all-out attack on the radical John 
Birch Society. Staff repórter Hans Engh supplied the research and writing. 

— 15 — 

From left around the talles: Claude Snyder , advertising; Thornas (TK) Kleveland, 
repórter ; Don Winner , circulation; Al Albinger , radio KTMS; Víctor Manning* wel 
chanical; Bert Lañe* business; T. M. Storke* editor and publisher; Charles Storke //, 
assistant; Herbert Orriss * Ronald Scoficld and Stanley Elliott , editors; Francis Tuck - 
weiler, sports; Bertram Willoughby , comptroler; Dick Smith , artist; Floyd Kenney , 
editor. *—deceased 

The crusade won national attention for TMS. High honors carne ¡n 
rapid succession: the Lauterbach Award from Harvard for “outstanding 
work ¡n defense of civil liberties”; the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing, 
from Columbio; the Elijah Lovejoy Fellowship for “courageous ¡ournalism” 
from Colby College; and honorary degrees from the Universities of Califor¬ 
nia and Missouri. 30 

In his 87th year, TMS carried on with plant improvements on a grand 
scale. He acquired land for employes’ parking and future building needs for 
the next 25 years. He ¡nstalled a $750,000 six-unit Goss press in a new 
$500,000 wing which extended to Ortega Street, across from a little Chí¬ 
nese laundry building in which TMS had launched his newspaper career 
in 1901. 

But amid his feverish planning for a future he could never live to see, 
and despite all the high honors heaped upon him as the deán of California 
publishers, TMS was a restless and unhappy oíd man. 

He confided to friends a fear that his News-Press and KTMS might 
"fall into the wrong hands”, now that none of his family appeared inter- 
ested in perpetuating his newspaper dynasty in Santa Barbara. TMS es- 
pecially did not want to risk having the Los Angeles Times gain control of 
the News-Press and convert ¡t into a satellite of the Chandler empire. 37 

— 16 — 

For many years, TMS had sworn that he would never sell the News- 
Press under any circumstances. But "the best-laid plans o’ mice and men 
gang aft a-gley’". After deep soul-searching, ¡n late 1963 TMS let ¡t be 
known that his newspaper and KTMS were available for purchase. 

Offers poured ¡n. The highest, reportedly for $15,000,000, carne from 
Lord Thompson, publisher of the Toronto Star and other Canadian news- 
papers. TMS rejected it, as he did an attractive offer from his friend Adlai 

“ni waií indefinitely,” he sa¡d, “for the right publisher.” 

He found his buyer in May of 1964, af which time he conveyed his 
newspaper and radio station to Robert McLean, owner of the prestigióos 
Philadelphia Bulletin, for a stock transfer said to have been befween 
$9,250,000 and $11,000,000. TMS retired to a prívate suite in the News- 
Press tower, with the title of editor and publisher emeritus, drawing an 
honorarium of $1,000 per week for as long as he lived. 

After fifty-one consecutive years, TMS was no longer a publisher. 
Editors across the country dusted off the cliché “an era has ended". 

McLean brought his top echelon execufive out from Pennsylvania, 
Stuart Symington Taylor, to be the autonomous editor and publisher of the 
Santa Barbara News-Press. Taylor retained the existing staff, along with 
TMS's tradicional open shop policy. Paul Veblen, the capable young exec- 
utive TMS hired from the Minneapolis Star and Tribune in 1957, continued 
in the key role of execufive editor. When TMS’s long-time business mana- 

ger, Bert D. Lañe, died unexpectedly in 1966, his replacemenf was Wil- 
liam F. Sykes. 

As he turned ninety, T. M. Storke fretted in the lonely vacuum of un- 
wanted retirment. No longer did a stream of VIPs flow through his office 
seeking advice, favors, or a donation. When the News-Press management 
listened pol.tely to, but did not invariably follow, TMS’s suggestions on 
policy decisions, the oíd gladiator peevishly insisted that his ñame be re¬ 
moved from the masthead. It was replaced by the simple line "T. M Storke 
publisher, 1901 to 1964" in six point. 


TMS continued to keep regular office hours until a few months before 
the end. At the last privóte chat the writer had with him in the inner sanc- 
tum, TMS admitted wistfully, “Sometimes I wish I hadn’t sold my newspaper 
quite as soon as I did. But in Bob McLean I know I chose the best possible 
buyer to carry on the traditions of my newspaper.” 

. . . Thomas More Storke, full of years and honors, died of a stroke 
at his home on Tuesday, October 12, 1971, six weeks short of his 95th 
birthday. He was buried privately two days later beside the "Oíd Man" 
m Santa Barbara Cemetery. On Saturday, October 16, Santa Barbarans 
bade him adiós at public memorial Services at the Oíd Mission. 

TMS’s good deeds were affectionately eulogized by an oíd crony, 

— 17 — 


Otvns the News-Press Neuis-Press publisher 

Earl Warren, retired Chief Jusfice of the U.S. Supreme Court, who called 
him ‘‘Mr. Santa Barbara". His successor, Stuart Taylor, likening TMS to 
William Alien White, called him the last of a vanishing breed of news- 
paper “thunderers”. 38 

The cliché was apt: an era had indeed ended. But another era was 

. . . The Santa Barbara News-Press has shown a healthy growth during 
the nine years that Stuart Taylor’s steady Progressive hand has been at 
the helm. Circulation ¡s approaching 50,000. Approximately 260 full-time 
employes draw higher salaries and enjoy wider fringe benefits, the pay- 
roll having increased from $1,750,000 annually under TMS to over 
$2,800,000 during Taylor’s regime. 

Politically the News-Press is middle of the road, supporting the man 
rather than the party. But as the only daily newspaper published in Santa 
Barbara, it cannot escape having an ¡ncreasingly vital and decisive ¡n- 
fluence in community affairs. 

The man in the Street may detect small difference between the News- 
Press of 1973 and the Storke product of 1963, but behind the scenes radi¬ 
cal changes are taking place. Space Age technology is phasing out tra- 
ditional, outmoded equipment. For example, the Linotype machine, back- 
bone of the publishing industry for three quarters of a century, has a cap- 
ability of 14 lines of type per minute; it is being replaced by ultramodern 
computerized “coid type” photo-composition equipment capable of 160 
lines per minute from automated tapes. One advanced Photon unit does 
the work of ten Linotype machines, occupies a tiny fraction of the floor 

— 18 — 

space, and totally eüminates the casting, recycling and storage of heavy 
type metal at the composition stage of production. 

This ¡s not to say that the Santa Barbara News-Press, billing itself 
as “the oldest daily newspaper ¡n Southern California”, will ever turn its 
back on the oíd, time-tested verities. 

Over fifty years ago, Thomas M. Storke drew up a platform to guide 
his staff. That platform still appears every day on the News-Press editorial 

“1. Keep the news clean and fair. 2. Play no favorites; never mix 
business and editorial policy. 3. Do not let the news columns reflect edi¬ 
torial comment. 4. Publish the news that ¡s public property without fear or 
favor of friends or foe. 5. Accept no charity and ask no favors. ó. Give 
valué received for every dollar you take in. 7. Make the paper show a 
profit if you can, but above profit, keep it clean, fearless and fair.” 

These seven precepts, while perhaps not always followed to the letter, 
guide the News-Press as it enters its second century. 


1. Masón, History of Santa Barbara County, Thompson & West, Oakland, p. 98 

2. Kemble, History of California Newspapers, Talismán Press, p. 237 

3. O'Niell, History of Santa Barbara County, p. 208 

4. Op. cit., p. 209 

5. Masón, p. 168 

6. Op. cit., p. 169 

7. O'Neill, p. 214 

8. Masón, p. 170 

9. Storke, California Editor, Westernlore Press, 1958, p. 27 

10. Masón, p. 330 

11. Op. cit., p. 329 

1 2. Op. cit., p. 330 

13. Op. cit., p. 330 

14. Op. cit., p. 176 

15. Op. cit., p. 176 

16. California Editor, pps. 86-93 

17. Op. cit., Chapter XII 
1 8. Masón, p. 236 

19. Op. cit., p. 1 40 

20. News-Press, Aug. 24, 1967 

21. California Editor, Chapter XIII 

22. Op. cit., p. 113 

23. County microfilm records. Civil Su¡t No. 7842, Box No. 480 

24. Op. cit., dated June 23, 1911. 

25. California Editor, p. 217 

26. County microfilm records, Sherman vs. Storke, Case No. 7842 

27. Judgement Book “H”, p. 213 

28. California Editor, p. 218 

29. Civil Case No. 13604, Storke vs. Fernald, county records. 

Amended complaint, paragraph VI. 

30. County records, Storke vs. Storke, Case No. 2415 

31. Civil Case No. 13604, Sec. X 

32. Civil Case No. 13604, p. 22 

33. California Editor, p. 338 

34. Op. cit., p. 340 

35. Peck, English Storkes in America, 1934, Entry No. 1-1 1-6223 

36. Storke, I Write for Freedom, pp. 142-155 

37. Personal Interview, TMS-Tompkins, 1963 

38. Santa Barbara News-Press, Oct. 16, 1971, p. A-l